Kōhanga reo employees deserve greater pay recognition

Early childhood educators
are undertaking protest action over pay disparity with primary
and secondary school teachers. But as Te Okiwa McLean reports, a kohanga reo veteran, who also holds an early education
qualification, says kohanga reo teachers
are even worse off and she’s urging the government
to do more. A play on the old saying ‘a child brought up in kohanga reo will stand in the world
with dignity’. This kohanga reo veteran
has concerns. Students study hard for three years
to graduate and receive the
Whakapakari qualification, like the ECE qualification
which also goes for three years. So, what’s the difference? Gaylene Collier has dedicated
more than 15 years to fostering the next generation
in the Kohanga Reo movement. She says the time has come
for the Kohanga Reo’s very own Whakapakari qualification
to be recognised. We learn about regulations surrounding the running of kohanga
and ECE centres. Despite that, we’re largely unrecognised. The national board has been
fighting this issue for a while hence the WAI2 claim but it’s gotten to a point now
where the workers themselves need to take a stand. Te Purapura o Taneatua me Ruatoki
refuse to tax the children’s parents due to the high rates of poverty – they often fundraise to get
new resources and new equipment that’s run down. Fences – some are looking
quite shabby. That’s because not a lot of funding
is distributed by the Ministry of Education
to the national board, or to us either. For this worker, she’s in her final year
of completing her Whakapakari qualification and she has already gained
ECE qualifications. She says this degree
should be recognised. In my opinion, Whakapakari is a little harder and that’s because
it’s in the language. It covers Maori culture and society, as well as early childhood life and
so it should be given recognition. The government announced in June
a 32 million dollar boost to increase kohanga wages, pay volunteers
and upgrade facilities. However, what’s the latest? It’s just a start. Work and discussions continue. Her call to action to her fellow
kohanga reo teachers: The time has come for us to be given
equal recognition for what we do at kohanga reo
as to what’s given to mainstream. Kohanga teachers are working
with Te Riu Roa representatives in Whakatane to discuss ways
on how to move forward on this issue. Te Okiwa McLean, Te Karere.

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