THURSDAY, 21 AUGUST 2014
Education Minister Christopher Pyne has refused to rule out the entire Federal de-funding of Australia's preschools and kindergartens.
Minister Pyne has told media that kindergartens are the “responsibility of the state government”.
This statement follows months of uncertainty after funding for preschools and kindergartens wasn’t confirmed in this year’s Budget, which Minister Pyne put down to his Government being ‘new’ when trying to justify their incompetence.
“Every preschool and kindergarten across Australia is currently gripped by crippling uncertainty - they don't know how many places or hours they can offer next year or how many staff members they will be able to put on,” Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Kate Ellis said.
“Parents too are feeling the pain of uncertainty, not knowing whether their child will have access to preschool or kindergarten, which in turn is leaving their work commitments up in the air.”
“After already witnessing massive cuts to education, this statement by Minister Pyne is ominous.”
“The consequences of the Federal Government walking away from kindergartens and preschools would be stark – hours will be slashed, fees will rise and services will be forced to shut down, forcing parents to find alternative care and putting pressure on already long waiting lists.”
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.
In 2008, Labor introduced Universal Access funding to make sure that, over time, every Australian child would have access to 15 hours of quality education in the year before school. As a result, attendance at preschool for more than 15 hours a week has grown from just 12 per cent in 2008 to over 56 per cent in 2012.