Election Forum 2008
Not sure who to vote for in the coming Election?
Here are the responses from some main party spokespeople to some key questions.
In the lead up to the coming election, the Early Education Federation recently hosted a public forum in Wellington, at which education spokes people from five major parties responded to some key questions and then took further questions from the floor. The purpose of the Forum was to inform early childhood education practitioners, parents and the public about the intentions of the main parties for the early childhood sector. The key questions were:
- What does your Party see as government’s role and responsibilities for early childhood education?
- What does your Party see as the key purpose of early childhood education?
- What are the first three actions that your Party would undertake to ensure sustained quality early childhood education provision so every child can access a high quality local service?
A summary of the responses follows:
Judy Turner from United Future said they support the provision of a variety of early childhood options including the parent-led services. They strongly believe that there are better educational outcomes for children when parents are actively involved and are convinced that money spent by government in ECE is money saved later on. If in government they would put additional money into parent-led services and better training for teachers on identifying the need for, and provision of programmes for children with disabilities. She would also like to see a better connection being made with families at risk through the child’s early childhood education service.
Metiria Turei from the Green Party said they would want to work toward providing good quality learning environments for children from birth to adulthood. The Greens are concerned that the same funding goes to private enterprises that provide early childhood services as goes to community groups. They would like to see more support given to community based services. The Greens would like to see increased participation in ECE in areas of the country that have the least access. Metiria also said that there needs to more investment in communities in order to alleviate child poverty.
Dail Jones from NZ First said that they also recognize the importance of investing in children in the early years to improve literacy levels and reduce numbers in prison later in life. They want to continue with Free ECE but have concerns about the impact on playcentres and kindergartens. They support the goal of increasing participation and investing in areas where that currently have least access. NZ First wants to address the problems of recruitment and retention of teachers generally by having a universal student allowance.
Matt Robson from the Progressive Party said that government needs to treat ECE as an integral part of the whole education system because it has such an influence on the preparation of a child’s participation in the rest of their lives. The Progressives are aware of the need to address the teacher shortage in all areas of the education system. They believe that education should be free from birth – i.e. early childhood through to tertiary.
Chris Hipkins from Labour confirmed the party’s ongoing commitment to the Strategic Plan goals, especially the 100% qualified teachers in ECE by 2012. He also spoke about the goal of improving adult child ratios, and increasing and extending participation.
Forum chair Amanda Coulson and question recorder Phillip Ozanne