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Hekia Parata

28 February, 2013

Positive growth in early childhood education

Education Minister Hekia Parata has welcomed new figures showing thousands more children are getting a better start in their education.

Figures published by the Ministry of Education today show enrolments in early childhood education services increased by 2,400 between 2011 and 2012.

“A quality early childhood education is crucial for children’s learning and development. Every child deserves the best start in life so I’m delighted with the good progress being made,” says Ms Parata.

The Government, through its Better Public Services programme, has set a target for 2016 that 98% of children starting school will have participated in quality early childhood education (ECE).

Funding for ECE is one of the most expensive parts of our education provision. Government funding for ECE subsidies has more than doubled from $617 million in 2006/07 to $1.4 billion this year.

Ninety-five per cent of children starting school had participated in ECE in the year up to June 2012 – up 0.3 per cent from the previous year. The growth rate of participation was higher for Māori and Pasifika children.

“Our priority is to make sure the children who miss out on ECE – mostly Māori and Pasifika – have the opportunity to take part. I’m extremely pleased the biggest increase in participation is in these two priority groups.”

The Government invested $91.8 million over four years to boost ECE participation among Māori, Pasifika, and children from lower socio-economic backgrounds.

Ms Parata says while Government funding targeted towards Māori and Pasifika is having an effect, more must be done to make sure all children have access to a quality education before they start school.

The Ministry of Education’s ECE participation programme has a particular focus on communities where large numbers of children do not attend ECE - such as parts of south Auckland.

The figures show although children’s participation in ECE continued to steadily increase in 2012, it was at a slower rate than in previous years, coinciding with a fall in the total number of children under four.

Results also show the proportion of qualified ECE teachers continued to increase.