Early child­hood sec­tor de­bated

Hamilton Press - - OUT & ABOUT - LIBBY WIL­SON

‘‘We need a gov­ern­ment that's pre­pared to fully fund the sec­tor.’’

More fully qual­i­fied teach­ers and bet­ter pay - those are the pre-elec­tion bat­tle cries from the peo­ple teach­ing the lit­tlest Ki­wis.

Po­lit­i­cal can­di­dates of­fer­ing ac­tion in those ar­eas got a good re­sponse from the crowd at an early child­hood ed­u­ca­tion de­bate in Hamil­ton.

It’s been seven years since the Na­tional Party re­moved a fund­ing bonus for cen­tres with more than 80 per cent fully qual­i­fied staff and the crowd wasn’t let­ting the can­di­dates for­get it.

Why did they do it, one au­di­ence mem­ber asked, and have they had a change of heart since?

Drop­ping that ex­tra fund­ing meant Na­tional could re­di­rect the money to ar­eas of great­est need, Hamil­ton East MP David Ben­nett said.

More kids are get­ting an early child­hood ed­u­ca­tion, Hamil­ton West MP Tim Macin­doe said, and we need enough teach­ers to keep up with that. Labour doesn’t agree, Hamil­ton East can­di­date Jamie Strange said.

It would restart fund­ing for 100 per cent qual­i­fied staff, for ex­am­ple by us­ing money that Na­tional would hand out un­der its Fam­ily In­comes Pack­age.

Taranaki-King Coun­try Greens can­di­date Robert Moore agreed.

‘‘We just need a gov­ern­ment that’s pre­pared to fully fund the [early child­hood] sec­tor.’’

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