TEU President Dr Tom Ryan says that government plans to limit access to free early childhood education could affect access to tertiary education as well.
The government indicated last week it will move to contain the cost of early childhood education, but has not yet released details. It has also been revealed that it is slashing childcare funding for thousands of families by cutting eligibility to the childcare subsidy.
Reportedly, 11,000 families with household incomes between $77,000 and $99,000 will have their subsidy cut.
The early childhood education union NZEI says that will put enormous pressure on middle income families, and have a flow down effect on participation rates in early childhood services.
Dr Tom Ryan says that as well as the obvious long-term impacts of reducing access to early childhood education, the move could impact on the ability of parents who want to undertake tertiary study.
“One of the many side-effects of free accessible early childhood education is that it gives mothers, in particular, the chance to improve their skills, knowledge and qualifications, while also helping their families and the wider community. With decisions like this, the government is effectively saying it does not want those women to have an equal chance at tertiary education,” said Dr Ryan.
CTU President Helen Kelly agrees, saying the cuts in eligibility to the Childcare Subsidy also reduce people’s ability to take up job opportunities.
“This policy is very short-sighted. It is a further illustration of the Government’s abject failure to address employment equity for women.”