27 Jun 2012

Economist ranks New Zealand early childhood system 9th in world

7:48 pm on 27 June 2012

Early childhood educators say New Zealand could improve on its ninth placing in a new international ranking of early childhood education systems.

Finland and Sweden top the 45 country ranking by the Economist Intelligence Unit, which is based on measures including the quality, affordability and availability of early childhood education.

New Zealand is ninth between the Netherlands and South Korea, while Australia is 28th.

Early childhood experts say the result is a credit to the New Zealand system.

But they say there are clear areas for improvement - including better teacher-child ratios and giving children the legal right to attend early childhood education.

They say other high performing countries already have that right in law and New Zealand should too.

Professor Helen May, a University of Otago academic, says New Zealand children should be given the legal right to attend early childhood education and that New Zealand is unusual among high-performing countries in not giving children that right.