Speaking out! - Restore the balance
With MATT SCHILLER
EARLIER this year Federal Education Minister Brendan Nelson moved to overturn sexual discrimination laws in response to the primary school teacher crisis confronting Australia.
The proposed changes to the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 would allow education authorities to offer male-only scholarships to primary school teacher trainees. Such scholarships would help raise the proportion of male teachers in primary schools, which fell from 25.8 per cent to 20.9 per cent between 1992 and 2003.
This lack of masculine influence is a problem for every child in the primary education system. The issue came to the media forefront when the Catholic Education Office sought approval from the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission to offer male-only scholarships, and was rejected.
Male teacher numbers represent an even greater problem in Catholic primary schools, where males make up only 14 per cent of teaching staff. Following the proposed legislation being introduced into Parliament, the Howard Government announced that if it were to be passed, they would provide 500 male trainee scholarships, each valued at $2000. However, this seemingly large figure of $1m has to be put into perspective.
Firstly, it would represent only a meagre 0.007 per cent of the planned Federal Education Budget for the financial year of 2004-05. But more importantly, a mere $2000 is not a significant enticement.
Thank you for visiting the Catholic Weekly Online. To read this article in full, please subscribe to the print edition, or buy the paper for $1 at your local NSW Catholic church. Click here to email comments to the editor.