Whangārei Childcare Centre is among 100 early childcare centres nationwide striking over pay parity and unmanageable teacher-to-child ratios.
Teachers party to the Early Childhood Education Collective Agreement 2023 (ECECA) closed their doors today from 1pm until 8pm.
Staff hoped strike action, which they indicated was not taken lightly, will capture the attention of the incoming Government.
Whangārei Childcare Centre’s Carmel Mahanga has been teaching for 39 years and is one of many in her dedicated team who picketed outside their workplace today.
Mahanga wears a T-shirt adorned with the words “quality not quantity”- a message about ratios which she said is a “major” issue within the sector.
Currently, ratios sit at one teacher for every five children under 2 years old, and one teacher in 10 children for those older than 2.
Carmel Mahanga wants to see the ECE sector better valued by Government, she says. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Mahanga explained the current ratios simply do not allow for quality learning.
Teachers who are part of the Early Childhood Education Collective Agreement (ECECA) also say they need a level of funding so that non-profits are able to function.
They also want to receive pay that values them equally to their kindergarten, primary school and high school counterparts, Mahanga said.
Whangārei Childcare Centre is a community-based centre and is run by a committee of parents and people from the community, with all profits going back to the centre.
“Our primary message is for more funding and the ratios. Those are the two major issues that we’re going through,” said Mahanga.
“Just hopefully there’s someone in Government who’s listening.”
Union spokeswoman Megan White, from the New Zealand Educational Institute Te Riu Roa (NZEI), said the current funding model is a “one-size-fits-all” that is not fit for purpose.
“Funding rates do not reflect many of these community services that provide better than minimum ratios, and more experienced qualified kaiako [teachers],” White said.
“It is well known that the first 1000 days are the most important in a child’s life. Most of our centres have long-serving kaiako providing low teacher-child ratios because we know this gives tamariki the individualised education and care they need in their early years.”
Brodie Stone is the education and general news reporter at the Advocate. Brodie recently graduated from Massey University and has a special interest in the environment and investigative reporting.
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