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Aussie states introduce extra year of early education

SYDNEY, June 16 (Xinhua) -- Children in Australian states of Victoria and New South Wales (NSW) will get an extra year of early education as part of major generational reform in both states.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet announced the joint long-term policy commitment on Thursday, saying that both states will "embark on the greatest transformation of early education in a generation."

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

"In 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 premiers said.

The NSW budget will set aside more than 5.8 billion Australian dollars (about 4 billion U.S. dollars) over 10 years to introduce a universal pre-kindergarten plan by 2030. Perrottet said it will help smooth children's transition before kindergarten where NSW kids could enroll from the age of five.

In Victoria, the Pre-Prep program will be delivered through kindergartens and long daycare centers, as Victorian children start kindergarten when they turn three or four.

Over the next decade, every Victorian four-year-old child will qualify for a 30-hour a week program of play-based learning. The state government will also make kindergartens free for all three and four-year-olds from 2023, saving families up to 2,500 Australian dollars (about 1,750 U.S. dollars) a child per year.

The Victorian government also plans to establish 50 childcare centers with an average capacity of 100 children. The first childcare center will open by 2025.

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

"This transformational new year of preschool education will not just build on the other commitments of this budget but will also change and improve, with the help of parents, educators, services, and stakeholders, how children enter and prepare for school," said a statement from the NSW government. 


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