Japan to Double Child Care Budget
In an effort to slow its declining birthrate and to better support families with children, Japan’s government will double its spending on early childhood care. The government is considering introducing a child insurance system to fund this increase, with companies and workers paying premiums. The move comes in connection with the creation of a new government agency tasked with overseeing child and family policies. The new agency will coordinate child-related programs spread across government agencies and create “seamless support related to children from preconception, pregnancy, childbirth, and child-rearing.” Read more at Japan Times.
Singapore Plans for Next Phase of its Future
Singapore will embark on a year-long planning exercise to develop a new vision for its government and society in the wake of COVID-19, Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong announced this week. The Forward Singapore Road Map will put forward policy recommendations in housing, health, social services, education, and economic development. Wong cited the lingering effects of the pandemic, as well as global wars and fraying social tensions, inflation, uncertainty and opportunities offered by new technologies, and changing demographics as factors in deciding to embark on the process. The strategic planning will involve public consultation over the next year, but policies already under consideration include expanding affordable housing, broadening early support for young families, and diversifying the fields targeted by retraining programs and other workforce development offerings. Read more here.
Fees Rising Along With Teacher Pay In New Zealand’s Early Childhood Centers
New Zealand’s Early Childhood Council is reporting a “tidal wave of fee increases” across early childhood centers. The increases reflect rising costs, resulting from high inflation and the impact of centers opting into the government’s pay parity initiative that offers incentives to raise salaries of early childhood teachers to be on par with those of kindergarten teachers. The sector is also reeling from the impact of extended closures during the pandemic. Early Childhood Council members are calling for the federal government to reform the early childhood sector, pointing to Australia’s recent announcement of universal preschool as a model for New Zealand. Read more here.
England Invests in Music and Sports for Students
The UK government announced investments in music education and sports at schools. A one-time fund of £25 million (US$30 million) will go towards purchasing new instruments and musical equipment and £75 million (US$91 million) will be available each year through 2025 to help schools provide at least one hour a week of music education for all students. Additional funding of £320 million (US$388 million) will support an expansion of physical education and sports programs, with more funds for competitive games for students with “passion and talent.” Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said, “I want every child to have the opportunity to develop a love of music and sport, so they can explore their passions and fulfill their potential.” For more see the UK Government news release.