The Turnbull Liberal Government’s anti-education agenda has been exposed, with Budget documents revealing they plan to withdraw funding for 4-year-old kinder.
It puts preschool at risk for thousands of little Australians – including almost 79,000 here in Victoria.
The shock $440 million cut – as reported in the Australian Financial Review today – trashes a long-standing arrangement between the Commonwealth and the states and territories to jointly fund one year of preschool.
Under the National Partnership Agreement on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education, Victorian children aged four receive 15 hours of kinder each week.
Previously unreported lines in the Budget show that the Agreement is due to “conclude" on 30 June 2020.
Early Childhood Education Minister Jenny Mikakos said Malcolm Turnbull was walking away from early childhood education.
The Federal Liberals also used the May Budget to announce they were washing their hands of quality and safety standards in early learning centres.
This funding – worth $20 million nationwide – ran out in July, forcing states and territories to go it alone or else risk letting childcare centres and kinders go unchecked.
Thousands of families and kinder staff across Australia now face doubts about the viability of 4-year-old preschool, despite a nationally-backed review recently calling for increased investment in early childhood education.
The Lifting Our Game report highlights that not only is Australia ranked 24 out of 26 OECD nations in terms of its investment in early childhood education, but it is one of just 11 nations worldwide to provide one year of preschool – putting it on par with countries like Angola, Bermuda, Iran and Nigeria.
The Andrews Labor Government funds 10 out of the 15 hours for 4-year-old kinder, as well as free or low-cost 3-year-old kinder for Aboriginal children and those who have had contact with Child Protection.
If Malcolm Turnbull gets his way, the year 2019 looks set to be the final year of 4-year-old kinder as we know it – every Victorian child born after 2016 will miss out on this important learning milestone.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Early Childhood Education Jenny Mikakos
“Early childhood education sets kids up for life – if they’re ready for kinder, they’re ready for school and ready for life – but Malcolm Turnbull wants to strip that all away. You just can’t trust the Liberals.”
“Their decision to cut this funding must call into question Malcolm Turnbull’s ongoing commitment to high quality early childhood education and care.”
“Cuts to education are in the Liberals’ DNA. Jeff Kennett cut preschool funding when he was in government, Malcolm Turnbull wants to do the same and Matthew Guy is just sitting back and watching.”
Reviewed 19 August 2020