NZEI Te Riu Roa: Urgent action must be taken to improve access to early childhood education

18 June 2021

NZEI Te Riu Roa says a new report shows urgent action must be taken to improve access to early childhood education. 

A report released by UNICEF today ranks New Zealand 33rd of 41 EU and OECD countries based on their national ECE and paid parental leave policies. These policies include the accessibility, affordability and quality of services available for children between birth and school age. 

The report shows that many OECD countries are providing more affordable childcare than in New Zealand. It says that far more children in our high-income households attend early childhood education (ECE) and care than those in our low-income households. 

“We know that developmentally, the first 1000 days of a child’s life are most important”, says NZEI Te Riu Roa President / Te Manukura Liam Rutherford. “We want to see an education system in Aotearoa that supports all our tamariki to reach their potential, and ECE needs to be a key element.” 

“But this report exposes a clear disparity in access to education based purely on how much a child’s parents earn. Put simply: right now, tamariki from our poorer families are missing out on education – further exacerbating the inequality that’s now rampant in this country. 

"We need to see a commitment from the government to public provision, to ensure all tamariki can benefit from early childhood education.

“We know that our teachers are highly trained and skilled, however there is only so much they can do within a system that is not accessible to our tamariki and whānau.” 

For more information: