Andrea Dawkins MP | Greens' Education spokesperson
After more than 12 months of community outrage, the Liberals’ decision to remove their lower school starting age from Education Act changes is welcome. Many Tasmanian parents will breathe a sigh of relief when they hear the proposal has been scrapped.
The Liberals’ decision, unveiled on social media last night, will also bring much relief to the early childhood education and childcare sector, whose viability was threatened by the lower school starting age.
The Liberals wasted $350,000 on the KPMG report into the lower school starting age. This could have been avoided if they had done any community consultation before foisting divisive legislation on the Tasmanian community, but that’s not their style.
The confusion and frustration being felt by Tasmanian families and teachers as a result of lower school starting age changes to the Education Act is finally over, but the necessary reallocation of those funds towards early years education is still uncertain.
The $10.5 million a year the Liberals had committed to pay for their lower school starting age must be invested in constructive, evidence-based, early education programs, like those rolled out in child and family centres.
Under the Liberals, no new child and family centres have been built. This policy reversal presents a unique opportunity to invest in new facilities in disadvantaged communities.
In August last year, the Greens released a policy initiative to fund 11 new child and family centres, as an alternative to lowering the school starting age.
Earlier this year, Labor announced a watered down version of the same policy. We hope the Liberals will also follow our lead, adopt our policy and invest the funds allocated to their unpopular lower school starting age into building new child and family centres in communities that are crying out for them.