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Calls for policy to get more men in preschools

11 February, 2008 For immediate release

Early childhood group calls all political parties to develop policy to get more men into preschools

An early childhood sector leader has labelled the absence of men from early childhood education 'a tragedy for thousands of New Zealand children', and called for political parties to announce election policy to address the problem.

Speaking after constitution of the 'Men in Early Childhood Network New Zealand' (in Wellington yesterday, 10 February), the group's new President Russell Ballantyne called for 'ten per cent in ten years', to have ten per cent of preschool teachers men by 2018.

The current Government had acknowledged the problem and done some good recent work creating booklets and a dvd inviting men into early childhood education, Mr Ballantyne said. But more was needed.

Men were currently only 1% of New Zealand early childhood teachers, down from almost 2.5% in 1992, he said, with 1% being one of the worst rates in the developed world.

'As a result many thousands who have no man at home, find no man at preschool and no man at primary school, and never meet a stable, reliable male figure in all their preteen years.

'Girls never experience nurturing from a trusted older male. Boys, cared for only by women, learn that nurturing is no part of the male job description. And in the absence of reliable men, too many of these boys learn their male role from violent television and music videos, and on the street.'

Politicians calling for solutions to the problem of youth crime 'might consider this', Mr Ballantyne said.

More male teachers would bring male styles of interaction to early childhood learning, he said. They would provide valuable encounters with safe and caring males for mothers who had had negative experiences of men. They would encourage more fathers to take part in the education and development of their children. And they would provide a pool of new teachers for a sector chronically short of workers.

The summit to constitute Men in Early Childhood Network New Zealand (held at Whitirea Community Polytechnic,
Porirua, 9 and 10 February) was attended by 55 male childcare teachers from throughout New Zealand – a third of the entire male workforce.


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