Concerned parents and teachers wanted to send a message to Education Minister Hekia Parata and the Government that every child needs a great teacher.

However, the only additional ECE funding in the past five years has been for increased participation, with no extra to cover inflation or other growing costs.

The lost funding means that many ECE services are struggling. For example, Whānau Manaaki Kindergartens (previously Wellington Kindergarten Association) recently announced a range of cost-cutting measures. Teachers will have less planning and assessment time and are being asked to volunteer to reduce hours. Forced redundancies may be required as a last resort.

Labour MPs Chris Hipkins and Grant Robertson addressed the crowd and promised that a Labour Government would restore funding to services staffed with 100% qualified teachers and work towards having 100% qualified teachers in every ECE centre.

NZEI Te Riu Roa President Louise Green said kindergartens were a bastion of quality teaching in the sector but a reduction in qualified teachers could lead to a cut in quality education for children.

“The amount of learning that goes on at this young age is extraordinary and we need to stand up for quality teaching for our youngest learners,” she said.

“The government used to fund centres up to 100% of qualified teachers, but reduced that to 80% five years ago. Since then, centres committed to 100% quality teaching have been scrambling to meet the shortfall, but it’s just not sustainable without proper funding.

“World Teachers Day is a chance to remind Minister Parata that all kids deserve quality teaching, and it is the government’s job to fund it.”

World Teachers’ Day protest over ECE funding cuts