Education think tank the Mitchell Institute has highlighted a statement from the recent Federal Budget papers that state that the Federal Government are planning to end funding for universal access to early childhood education in 2020.
As reported in the Australian Financial Review, the Mitchell Institute’s Charlene Smith found the reference in the less-reported Strategy and Outlook Paper from the recent May Budget. It states that the Government are budgeting for savings as a result of the “conclusion of the National Partnership Agreement on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education on 30 June 2020”.
“If the Partnership Agreement ends, fees will increase for parents and we will have to do more work in schools. We know kids who do pre-school have better literacy and numeracy skills. We run the risk of seeing Australia falling further behind,” Ms Smith is reported as saying.
The move comes even as States and Territories are moving forward on evidence-based recommendations to roll out access for three-year-olds to Government-funded early childhood education.
In comments to the AFR, Education Minister Simon Birmingham did not state that funding would continue after 2020, but that “there was ample time to iron out policy settings with the states and territories” before the conclusion of the funding.
The decision to end funding to the National agreement would be consistent with the Government’s short-term and last minute approach to the Universal Access funding since coming into office in 2013, and with ending funding for the National Quality Agenda.
Shadow Early Education Minister commented on the reports today, saying “this will have [a] terrible impact on the early years.”
Federal government finally admits that it plans to cut preschool funding – this will have terrible impact on the early years https://t.co/bh3vlbAByb
— Amanda Rishworth MP (@AmandaRishworth) August 5, 2018