The Experiences of Rural Playcentres: Under-Supported, Under Valued and Under Attack



In rural settings, Playcentres provide valuable social support and relief from isolation, promoting a sense of family, community, and friendship. However, rural parents-as-educators are feeling the pressures of changes within the Playcentre Aotearoa governing body, and from the Ministry of Education, to the point where closures of rural centres are becoming a reality. Should rural Playcentres close, for some, the consequences are that their children lose out on an early education. This paper discusses the findings of a recent research project that investigated the beliefs, experiences and perceptions of rural Playcentre parents-as-educators, from the perspective of a rural Playcentre member. The study highlighted the need for greater attention to the role of rural Playcentres, their value to local communities, and the potential tragedy of closures and the loss of early education opportunities. In response to these findings, I argue that the role of Playcentre in rural Aotearoa is under-supported, undervalued, and under attack, and advocate for increased funding and policy commitments to ensure that the future of Playcentre as a unique ECE offering is assured.