Māori TV interviewed Arapera Herewini Card, Pouhere Kaupapa Māori about some of the issues related to the NZEI proposed Fair Pay Agreement in the ECE sector.
Early Childhood Education Providers are all experiencing the pressures from shortages of kaiako. They are finding it difficult to get qualified kaiako in Puna Reo, or to attract kaiako with fluency in te reo. The interviewees noted that it is a struggle keeping kaiako in Puna, as some go to Kura Kaupapa. And noted the wider ECE sector are also having the same difficulties attracting kaiako into the sector. The interviewers called on the government to allow the sector and kaiako to grow and make the changes required for our tamariki.
Fair Pay Agreements have the potential to ensure improved pay and working conditions for early childhood teachers. A key aspect of any Fair Pay Agreement is establishing minimum standards for kaiako which could include (higher pay, more stable hours, working conditions including safe and healthy workplaces, training and development.) A Fair Pay Agreement also provides consistency of minimum standards for pay and working conditions across the sector for all employers, thereby assisting in the retention of kaiako, supporting equitable outcomes for employees.
Te Rito Maioha believes that valuing our kaiako, ultimately translates into quality education for our tamariki, with higher pay often leading to better retention, and more teachers wanting to train in a sector where right now there are significant shortages. Ultimately better conditions and support (healthy and safety, non-contact time, professional learning and development) lead to a better service for children, and in reality, the workers conditions are the children’s conditions.
However, any effective Fair Pay Agreement relies on other decision making that has not yet concluded e.g. Pay Equity and Pay Parity discussions are works in progress, but the Education Minister, Ministry of Education, and the sector have not arrived at any conclusion. Both are crucial to a meaningful Fair Pay Agreement for the sector.
Te Rito Maioha believes the government needs to urgently and adequately invest in early childhood education, addressing Pay Equity and Pay Parity, putting in place a new funding system that is adequate for all parts of early childhood education provision, a strategic workforce plan to deal with teacher shortages in the short, medium and long term, which in turn will support the improvement of child-teacher ratios and thereby emphasising the importance we place on our tamariki education.
You can view the entire interview here