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New South Wales and Victoria’s premiers promise free pre – K

Children eating at a table in childcare
Image: Pexels

In two Australian States, early childhood education could get a shake up.

The Premiers of New South Wales and Victoria are promising free Pre – K for four – year – old children. It will take place five days a week.

Victoria’s Premier, Daniel Andrews plans to implement the change by 2025. However, NSW Premier, Dominic Perrotet won’t implement the change until 2030.

In a joint statement, the premiers said:

It will mean that, in the next 10 years, every child in Victoria and NSW will experience the benefits of of a full year of play-based learning before the first year of school.

The premiers also claim that free Pre – K will not only benefit children, but also working parents.

Pre – K will take place in preschools in both states.

NSW Minister for Education and Early Learning, Sarah Mitchell said the policy was… “the right thing to do for our kids”.

Australian children need better in education

According to Sydney Morning Herald, Australian children aren’t doing well in education.

Australia ranks 32 out of 38 OECD countries in child well – being. Australia ranks 39 out of 41 European Union (EU) and OECD in education outcomes.

Standards in literacy, numeracy and science have been declining over the past decade.

Early childhood education is shown to improve education outcomes. Children can experience these benefits across their schooling.

Education psychologist, Claire Rowe expressed concerns to Andrew Bolt about making Pre-K compulsory.

However, she did point out one positive. Children who come from dysfunctional families will be able to find security and attachment with early childhood educators.

Children who live in poverty will benefit greatly from free Pre – K.

The economic burden early childhood education had on parents

One reason why there’s a push to make Pre – K free is to release the burden from parents. Too often, the cost of early childhood education cancels out any financial benefit of working.

So offering some relief to parents makes sense.

Will it be compulsory?

According to the ABC, neither premier is planning to make Pre – K compulsory. Of course that can change in the future. Frankly, I doubt it ever will be.

Good start, but more needs to be done

I think this announcement is a vote grab for next year’s state elections. Having said that, I don’t have anything against free Pre – K. If it helps children and unburdens parents, then great.

However, I think there are bigger issues facing early childhood centres nationwide. Like children left hungry or given poor quality food in early childhood education centres.

So, let’s get the standards of quality early childhood education up again. Make sure that all early childhood education centres are properly staffed.

The governments need to make sure all early childhood education centres have the resources – including funding for food – that they need.

Let’s not have early childhood educators buried in endless paperwork. Just allow them to nurture and educate the children. And, of course, they need to be paid properly.

What are your thoughts on free Pre -K? Good idea? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.