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Australia last in OECD for participation in early childhood education

A new report has ranked Australia at the bottom among OECD countries in education enrolment rates for 3-year-olds.

The OECD report, titled Starting Strong IV Monitoring Quality in Early Childhood Education and Care, also found Australia had the lowest expenditure on early education. However, there are a growing number of countries establishing monitoring systems for early childhood education programs and the report stated that Australia is one of them.

Early Childhood Australia chief executive Samantha Page said despite low participation rates, Australia has done well in terms of delivering quality service. “Australia is doing well at monitoring quality and we have good regulation in place,” Page said. “The national quality framework is a very positive reform that Australia has got right.

“For Australia, the challenge is now to capitalise on this investment in a quality program by increasing participation, particularly, but not exclusively, amongst children at risk of poor educational outcomes. There is much we can learn from other countries such as New Zealand and Canada about lifting participation.”

Page explained that Australia’s future prosperity is reliant upon collective investments in children’s development. “We now know that two years of early childhood education before school amplifies children’s development, with better results in school and improved lifelong outcomes,” she said. “If we can improve access to early childhood education, it will help lift student achievement, benefiting the whole economy.”

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