Today Labor launched the 15 hour best start campaign, calling on the Abbott Government to continue funding universal access to preschool and kindergarten in their upcoming Budget.
Kindergartens and preschools will be left with no choice but to increase the fees or decrease the hours they offer to Australian children unless the Abbott Government delivers funding to continue the program.
Since the universal access program was established, preschool enrolments have climbed from just under 70 per cent nationally in 2008 to 90 per cent of children enrolled in the year before they go to school.
The Review of the National Partnership Agreement on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education reported that children accessing 15 hours a week has skyrocketed from 23 per cent in 2008 to 82 per cent.
Shadow Minister for Early Childhood, Kate Ellis said that enough was enough and the Government needed to stop playing games with the future of our children.
“90 per cent of a child’s brain development occurs in the first five years of their life, which is why Labor introduced this program to ensure that every child has access to 15 hours of preschool or kindergarten in the year before they go to school.
“Access to 15 hours of early education for four year olds is a recommended UNICEF benchmark and we don’t want Australian children to miss out on the best start.”
“The OECD identified this specific program as progress towards improving performance and equity in education, which they said was essential to boost Australia’s productivity.”
“Failure to fund this program would be a massive step backwards for Australian early childhood education.”
“We urge mums, dads, grandparents and anyone committed to ensuring Australian kids get the 15 hour best start to sign up to the campaign.”
Australian studies show children who attend preschool or kindergarten go on to score significantly better in Year Three NAPLAN tests. This is also backed up by international research that shows Australian students with one year of pre-primary education achieve higher results in Year Four reading, maths and science.
“The Government needs to stop keeping children, kindergartens, preschools and educators in limbo and commit to funding a program which is integral to the future of our children.”
Details of the campaign is available at www.15hourbeststart.org.au
THURSDAY, 2 APRIL 2015