Our position is that NZ children should have a legal right to a free pre-school education in the same way that children have a right to a free public school education. The government should ensure that a fully publicly-funded kindergarten or Te Kōhanga Reo place is available for any child to attend morning or afternoon sessions at no cost to families and whanau from age 3 years.
Note that currently, ECE services can refuse the enrolment of any child and ECE is not free for every child. NZ Free Kindergarten Associations were originally set up to provide free public preschool education for any child from age 3 years.
"The Government owns the majority of kindergartens and there is certainly a public perception that we are a major partner in the kindergarten sector and therefore have a greater responsibility for encouraging quality." (State Service Minister Trevor Mallard, 13/03/2000 press release).
Today the government needs to step back into its role as duel-partner with Kindergarten Associations and make sure that all kindergartens make available free morning or afternoon preschool education to any child from age 3 years. Additionally as treaty partners with Māori, the Crown must also work in partnership with the Te Kōhanga Reo Trust and support the provision of fully publicly-funded places for children to experience and benefit from learning in a kōhanga reo before starting school/ kura.