ALP pledge a ‘game changer’: AEU
The Australian Labor Party’s $1.75 billion commitment to early childhood education puts pressure on the coalition government to reverse cuts and provide certainty to the sector, the Australian Education Union (AEU) has said.
Guaranteed funding will give certainty to educators to provide proven benefits to hundreds of thousands of children and their parents, says AEU Federal President Correna Haythorpe.
Early Learning and Care Council of Australia (ELACCA) CEO Elizabeth Death, who spoke recently at an AEU delegation of educators and parents to federal parliament, said quality early childhood education improves school readiness lifts NAPLAN results and PISA scores, and increases Year 12 completions among a host of other benefits.
Ms Death said that Australia lags behind many countries that already provide two years of early childhood education, and “children who start behind, stay behind”.
“Analysis of international test results shows that children who attended at least two years of quality preschool achieved much higher scores at age 15 than those who attended no preschool or only one year,” Ms Death said.
The AEU also said that a head start is particularly important for children from disadvantaged backgrounds, or where English is a second language at home.
Cara Nightingale, a preschool teacher from a diverse community in the Melbourne suburb of Hampton Park, notices the practical benefits of investing in early childhood education. She says that children who’ve attended early childhood services have a much smoother transition and settle faster into the routine of primary school.
“It also helps break the cycle of disadvantage for our most vulnerable children, as well as contributing to Australia becoming a more equitable society that will prosper both socially and economically,” says Ms Nightingale.
The AEU said that the uncertainty of Australia’s political landscape makes it difficult to predict where the early childhood education sector will be in 2019 because the coalition government funding for early childhood runs out at the end of this year.
Labor’s pledge to boost preschool funding and extend access to three year old children if elected gives voters a clear choice to consider when they next head to the polls, the AEU said.
“It’s also a really strong indicator that public education generally is shaping up to be the big issue for the federal election,” says Ms Haythorpe.