Are you a working parent looking for good quality childcare for your young children? Maybe you’re thinking about moving to New Zealand because you’ve been told its a ‘Great Place to Raise Kids’?
Think again. Take a look at the following problems in the early childhood sector in NZ, you may want to reconsider your choice of country.
According to an independent report poor quality care has been uncovered in this sector that is “harmful to children”. But rather than address these issues a NZ government department tried to bury it using propganada.
The present government is more interested in ‘bums on seats’ in its baby farms and wants to have 98% enrolment by 2016, rather than providing good quality Early Childhood Education (ECE) to its most vulnerable residents. According to the Teachers Union and the Green Party:
Teachers’ union NZEI and the Green Party say a report released by the Education Review Office showing almost half of early childhood services are not doing enough to help under-threes learn reinforces there are huge problems with quality in the sector.
“This is what happens when you slash funding to ECE, reduce teaching standards, and force more kids to attend ECE at the same time,” said Green Party education spokeswoman Catherine Delahunty. She said the government’s targets – to have 98 percent enrolment in quality ECE by 2016 – was putting kids at risk by ignoring the “quality” aspect…read more here
An independent education watchdog (ERO) investigated the “huge problem” and prepared a report for the Ministry of Education “Infants and toddlers: competent and confident communicators and explorers”,
However, as is so often the case in New Zealand the report was considered a risk to the government and buried under an avalanche of spin and propaganda that planted ‘good news stories‘ in the public domain.
What a pity the same amount of effort and resources wasn’t put into improving ECE instead!
A damning report by an education watchdog about babies and toddlers was partially rewritten after high-level meetings about its “risk” to the Government.
Documents show Ministry of Education advisers also tried to mitigate the impact of the Education Review Office report by planting good-news stories to balance negative media coverage, and carefully crafting a communications “narrative” during “war-room” meetings before its release.
Politicians and sector experts say the behaviour is concerning, and have raised queries about potential political interference in an independent body, plus a lack of transparency at the agencies.
The propaganda campaign came to light when emails between the ministry staff were obtained by the NZ Herald under the Official Information Act.
They show staff frantically planning for the release of the study – which found almost half of early childhood centres were not doing enough for under-3s in vital developmental areas, and therefore not meeting their curriculum requirements.
The finding followed a series of other reports that highlighted issues with the quality of early childhood education, and urged the Government to raise standards. The worst of those pointed out that poor-quality early childhood education can be harmful for children.
Next came a frenzy of activity at the ministry There were internal “war rooms and meetings with the ERO which resulted in the independent ERO report being re-written a day before its release day to put the onus on the providers, rather than the government.
Sources say the ministry wanted the report “reframed” as it was seen as a threat to the Government and could have potentially embarrassed the minister, Hekia Parata.
The final recommendations – updated on August 5, the day it was made public by the Herald – did not reference the ministry at all, with four bullet points focused solely on providers, including the need for them to “note the good practice examples included in the report”.
The re-written report was a “massive blow to ERO’s credibility” according to the Labour Party education spokesman Chris Hipkins:
“They are supposed to be an independent watchdog. It’s unacceptable if the Government [was] putting pressure on them, and unacceptable if they bowed to that pressure.”
Green MP Catherine Delahunty said it appeared the ministry was trying to hide a problem to make the minister look good. “How can parents trust information about services if they are whitewashed?” source
You may also be interested to know that the ERO inspects state schools in New Zealand, you may like to take the last sentence of the above quote into consideration when your reading their report on the schools your children are going to.
You must also read
New Zealand plunges in ‘best place to be a mum’ rankings (11 May 2013)
Finland has taken top place in rankings of the best countries in which to be a mother, with New Zealand toppling to 18th place.
Nine European countries and Australia take up the top 10 places, in what is going to be a blow to New Zealand’s fixation with its place in international ‘Best of’ tables.
“Doing Better for Children, was the first time the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) had reported on child well-being within its 30 member countries.
It identified New Zealand’s biggest shortfall as its limited spending on young children (aged five and under), which was less than half the OECD average.
New Zealand was also struggling in terms of health, with the highest youth suicide rate in the OECD and an above-average child mortality rate. (see our ‘Stats’ page )” …
…“Children lived in poor material conditions, average family incomes were low by OECD standards and child poverty rates were high… read on