Tuesday, 06 February 2018
Today the Minister for Education has again shown he is only interested in playing politics when it comes to children’s access to early education.
In a clumsy attempt to insert himself in the South Australian election campaign, the Minister has selectively used data to attack four-year old preschool attendance rates and use the data as a cover to crab walk away from his earlier support to fund preschool for three-year olds.
This comes less than a week after the Minister quoted the lack of quality data as a justification for not providing a long term funding commitment to the four-year old preschool program.
The current four-year old preschool program is based on paying states and territories for performance. This has driven improved enrolment rates for four-year olds across the country since the program began in 2008.
In fact, the Department of Education confirmed the South Australian Government has received full funding under the Liberal Government since 2013 for the National Partnership, and clear indicator South Australia has met the performance benchmark set by the government.
The Minister who previously flagged his support for three year old’s access to preschool:
“I’ve been speaking publicly about extending preschool to three year olds for nearly a year. It’s a complex issue in terms of what settings it should be delivered in and for what hours as well as how it is funded.”
“Nonetheless we are looking at international models and will engage with state leaders who have a prime responsibility in the delivery and funding of any preschool expansion.”
And now won’t even secure long term funding for four year old access to preschool, instead he is only interested in playing politics.
Now he says it is all too hard because of problems with data and attendance rates.
Here’s an idea for the Minister. If the data isn’t good enough – fix it. If attendance rates aren’t high enough – fix it.
But don’t use it as a pathetic excuse to jeopardise the education of three and four year olds.
Let’s be clear. The Minister is playing these games because he is not committed to delivering quality early education. The sector now has to live with another year of uncertainty about the future of the four-year old program, and now the Minister seems determined to punish Australia’s three year old kids so he can throw a few punches in a state election.
We already know 279,000 families worse off come July 2 under the Turnbull Government’s new child care changes. Now families will also be left unsure if their children will have access to preschool in 2019.
This is appalling – and all a direct consequence of this Government’s focus on politics over policy.
Our children deserve better.