Australian states introduce extra year of early childhood education

SYDNEY, June 16 (Xinhua) — Children in the Australian states of Victoria and New South Wales (NSW) are getting an extra year of early childhood education as part of a major generational reform in both states.

Victorian Prime Minister Daniel Andrews and NSW Prime Minister Dominic Perrottet announced the joint long-term policy commitment on Thursday, saying both states will begin “the biggest transformation of early education in a generation”.

The program will consist of a year of play-learning for all four-year-olds. It will be known as “pre-prep” in Victoria and “pre-kindergarten” in NSW.

“Over the next 10 years, every child in Victoria and NSW will experience the benefits of a full year of play-based learning before their first year of school,” the Prime Ministers said.

The NSW budget will set aside more than 5.8 billion Australian dollars (about $4 billion) over 10 years to introduce a universal pre-kindergarten plan by 2030. five years old.

In Victoria, the Pre-Prep program is delivered through pre-schools and long-term nurseries, as Victorian children enter pre-school when they turn three or four.

Over the next ten years, every Victorian four-year-old child will be eligible for a 30-hour play-learning program per week. The state government will also make kindergartens free for all three- and four-year-olds from 2023, saving families up to AUD 2,500 (about $1,750) per child per year.

The Victorian government also plans to establish 50 nurseries with an average capacity of 100 children. The first daycare will open in 2025.

NSW Secretary of Education and Early Learning Sarah Mitchell said the evidence is clear that providing the best education starts in the early years.

“This transformative new year of early childhood education will not only build on this budget’s other commitments, but will also change and improve, with the help of parents, educators, services and stakeholders, how children attend and prepare for school” , said a statement from the NSW government.