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University of Canterbury Planning to Close a Centre that is Losing Money

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Canterbury University is planning to close one of its early childhood education centres to the dismay of parents who have children enrolled there.

The university runs three centres - the Sheila Walker Unit for under-2s and the Early Childhood Learning Centre for over-2s at the main university campus and Te Ao Tamariki at the College of Education campus

The centres cater primarily for the children of staff and students but are also open to the wider community.

Now the university has told parents the under-2s section at Te Ao Tamariki will close in July.

A university representative said the centre had lost money last year and was predicted to lose money again this year, but parents say closing the centre will have a detrimental effect on their children.

Some parents were particularly concerned as they also had children attending the over-2s section and the decision would mean their younger siblings would now have to find a new centre therefore splitting up the family.

Parents have spoken out against the decision with one, Craig Spray, saying it was unfair to base decisions on the past year due to the earthquakes.

Another, Anar Rozi, said she was upset the centre was closing as she had enrolled her son there because it was close to the College of Education where she was studying and meant she could return to the centre to breastfeed him.

Parents also say the university has not made an effort to seek other solutions to the deficit problem and that the centre has been poorly managed.

A request from parents to meet with the university’s Vice Chancellor Rod Carr was reportedly declined.

The changes will see the number of fulltime teaching positions halved and increase the number of part-time positions, a move the university says will keep the centre viable. However, some have criticised the institution saying that as a place which trains new teachers and early childhood teachers, it should be at the forefront of quality early childhood education and professional development.

The centre’s closure will affect eight children. The over-2s section at the centre has 46 children enrolled.


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