Government commits to Universal Access funding for 2021 in surprise announcement
Dan Tehan, Federal Minister of Education has confirmed that the Government will commit to extending funding universal access to preschool via the National Partnership on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education (NPUA) for another year to 2021 as part of its ECEC sector COVID-19 response package.
The Federal Government will provide $453.2 million for the 2021 period with Mr Tehan noting “Preschool is an important first step in a student’s formal education, so the Federal Government has again committed to providing $453.2 million towards the preschool education of every child.”
The announcement of funding is typically welcomed by the ECEC sector in the short term but over the long term questions remain unanswered about the Government’s commitment to the NPUA due to an absence of a multi year commitment to the scheme.
Despite an interim review of the scheme finding that it had “continued to make a significant contribution to improving participation in affordable, quality, early childhood education programs for children” ongoing funding remains elusive.
Consistent with the announcement of the 2020 funding made in December 2019, Mr Tehan highlighted he was “still addressing long-term issues impacting the attendance of children from disadvantaged, Indigenous and rural and remote families” and “still working to develop strategies to increase preschool attendance to improve participation rates in affordable, quality, early childhood education programs for children.”
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