Federal Government failing the grade on kindergarten funding
Universal Access funding must be permanent not piecemeal
The announcement by the Federal Government that it will fund free access to kindergarten/preschool for another year falls far short of the permanent, ongoing funding required for the future of the sector and its students.
Our union Branch Secretary Terry Burke said while the Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham’s confirmation of Universal Access funding for 2018 was welcomed, the announcement only perpetuated the government’s piecemeal approach to supporting the early childhood education sector.
“For years now the Federal Government has failed to make a permanent commitment to Universal Access funding – funding that ensures all Australian children have access to 15 hours per week of early childhood education in the year before they start school,” Mr Burke said.
“Instead the Federal Government has relied on a drip-feed approach to funding – leaving children, parents and employees in perpetual uncertainty.
“The announcement continues this approach and underscores just how little value the Federal Government places on the future of our next generation of students and the future of our country for that matter.
“The Federal Government’s denial of permanent, ongoing funding for this sector remains at odds with research that has identified indisputable evidence of the positive effect that quality early childhood education has on children’s learning and development.
“It is also at odds with the fact that access to quality early childhood education has been proven to be a major factor in our country’s future – its importance as a driver for immediate and long-term economic development having been recognised by the Productivity Commission in October 2014.
“Yet here were are again, as we have been for the last three years, with a Federal Government that turns a blind eye to this social and economic issue.
“In fact, Australia currently provides less than a quarter of the OECD average expenditure on early childhood education when measured as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“That the Federal Government has not taken the opportunity to provide the certainty of funding the sector needs is very disappointing.
Mr Burke said the announcement meant IEUA-QNT members would continue their Fund Our Future campaign launched earlier this year, calling on the Federal Government to get serious about funding early childhood education in this country.
“It’s crucial the Federal Government receives a clear message that its investment in early childhood education is not optional,” Mr Burke said
Queensland Kindergarten Director and IEUA-QNT member Jenny Finlay said members had launched the campaign because they understood firsthand the difference quality early childhood education makes for students and the community.
“It’s time for the Federal Government to permanently fund our kindergartens and provide certainty for the early childhood sector through Universal Access funding,” Ms Finlay said.
It’s time for them to invest in our next generation of Australians and give students the best possible start when it comes to learning and life,” she said.