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$14b earmarked for early childhood education

Published:Wednesday | May 7, 2014 | 5:05 PM

Education Minister Ronald Thwaites says his focus this year will be early childhood education, and that he will prioritise the school feeding programme.

Speaking in the sectoral debate in Parliament today, he said the Ministry of Education will be expanding the breakfast programme to provide free breakfast to 70 per cent of the early childhood cohort, or 138,000 children.

The remaining 30 per cent will have the option to make a contribution or pay in full, Thwaites said.

The Ministry is allocating $1.05 billion to this programme.

“I am inviting new partnerships with the local businesses, churches, government offices and schools in the community for they will receive the output of these basic schools later on as students and workers, and have a vested interest in better quality,” he said.

The overall early childhood budget will consume $14.1 billion or 18 per cent of the Education Ministry’s recurrent budget, Thwaites told lawmakers. Capital spending will also amount to 18 per cent or $316.5 million.

“The dollar investment in early childhood education can give you a 17-fold return,” Thwaites said. “I don’t think there’s any better non-Ponzi investment.”