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Opposition Senator, Basil Waite has called on the Government to conduct a salary re-classification for early childhood teachers.
He said that teachers in the early childhood system are severely underpaid and are not incentivised to remain in that sub-sector. “Early childhood teachers’ salaries range from a low of $14,800 (per month) if they are paid to a high of $25,645.32 for college trained early childhood institution teacher,” he pointed out.
Senator Waite, who is the Opposition Spokesperson for Education was making his contribution to the 2009/10 State of the Nation Debate in the Senate on Friday (February 12).
He further urged the government to rationalise the ownership, management and operating structure of community-operated basic schools and implement a “grandfather clause” for all grades 1 and two primary teachers to be certified as early childhood trained. A grandfather clause is an exception that allows an old rule to continue to apply to some existing situations, when a new rule will apply to all future situations.
Noting the importance of early childhood education, Mr. Waite said research has shown that the first 3 to 4 years are critical for the development of sensory pathways, social and emotional development, and the basic pathways for reading and mathematics.
“If these pathways are not adequately developed in the early years, tremendous human and financial resources must be expended to address deficiencies. Normal development is not often possible,” he stated.
Early childhood training is provided for children age 3 to 5 years in infant schools, infant departments, and community-operated basic schools. There are also privately operated kindergartens/prep schools and over 3,000 early childhood institutions responding to a demand of approximately 135,000 school spaces.
The government subsidises 92 per cent of these institutions.

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