BERMAGUI Pre School joined with other Early Education and Care Services across NSW on August 29 to protest against the NSW State Government’s lack of investment in early education and proposed changes to the funding of community based preschools and long day care services.
Early childhood educator/director at the pre school Narelle Myers said under the proposed new funding model, children aged three and under would no longer receive funding.
The only three-year-olds who would receive a fee subsidy would be those from an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander background or from low-income families.
Preschools and long day care services across NSW had a “red day of action” to highlight the fact that NSW spends less on early education than any other state and territory.
A rally and protest at Parliament House in Sydney was also held.
“At Bermagui Pre School we wore red clothing to show how fired up we are about the lack of funding from the NSW Government,” Ms Myers said.
Bermagui Pre School has received funding from the NSW State Government for many years and it has enabled us to keep fees as low as possible while providing high quality early education to the children who use the service, she said.
Without the funding to subsidise the cost for parents, fees would be in excess of $65 per day for a three-year-old child, putting preschool out of reach for a lot of local families.
The changes could also cause numbers to plummet, days of operation to be reduced and staff numbers and hours to be cut, she said.
“We need greater investment in our children by the NSW Government,” she said.
“We know that children that participate in early education do better in school and in later life.
The OECD reported that Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) test scores have shown that children across the world who access early education have improved cognitive abilities and higher reading abilities at age 15.
“But the NSW Government has not increased funding despite this being the first recommendation of a review they commissioned into funding for early childhood education.
“The NSW Government has over a number of years spent less on early education and care than any other state and territory in Australia. This has meant higher preschool fees, and subsequently lower participation in early education than any other state or territory.
“Australian three and four year olds are engaged in formal early education at one of the lowest rates in the world.
“The OECD report ‘Education at a Glance 2013’ showed that only 13 per cent of Australian three-year-olds and 67 per cent of four-year-olds are engaged in early education.
“Bermagui Pre School is licensed and expected to provide education and care for 2- 5 year old children and cannot understand why we will not receive funding for all children in these age groups.
“The consequences of not funding 2 and 3 year olds for small rural preschools will be detrimental, diminishing our ability to provide equitable and accessible early childhood education and care for those who need it most in our communities.”