The decision to close a unit, the Centre for Early Childhood Development and Education, established to develop education for pre-school children is extremely short-sighted and a clear indicator of this Government’s lack of commitment to early education.
According to the department the closure of this unit and the loss of eight jobs is so the department can reconsider the structures established to support early education. If that is the case why shut down a unit staffed with experts in the field. What this decision does demonstrate is the Government’s lack of coherent childcare policy which is in stark contrast to Labour’s policy which is committed to the creation of a national system of child-centred and learning-focused preschool education.
As it stands less than one out of four of Irish children aged between three and four years old are currently in structured pre-school education. This contrasts with our European partners where at least two in every three children of that age enjoy such education. It is clear given that the Irish spend on per-school education is one of the lowest in developing countries, there is no serious consideration for pre-school education from the Government, at the very least the decision to close the unit proves this to be the case.
Education is the most important investment that we, as a nation, can ever make. Universal education is the key which unlocks the potential of every child. Pre-school education has been proven to tackle disadvantage which makes the decision to close this important unit in St Patrick’s Drumcondra all the more ludicrous. I am calling on the Government to reverse this cutback and commit properly to pre-school education.