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Queensland schools to press ahead on gender balance

Catholic schools in Queensland plan to discriminate in favour of male student teachers to redress a gender imbalance in its teaching ranks in Queensland.

The plan flies in the face of a Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission ruling that followed a request by the Catholic Education Office in Sydney.

But Queensland Catholic Education Commission executive director Joe McCorley told The Courier Mail that with men making up only 20% of teachers in Catholic schools, there was a desperate need to restore some semblance of gender balance.

"I'm not seeing it as discrimination," Mr McCorley said. "I'm seeing it more in a positive light of trying to see what is best for students in our schools and what parents are looking for. They're looking for a balance in education, in role models, and it seems good education to me to pursue this."

A shortage of male teachers has been given as one reason why boys are under-performing in class and dropping out of school earlier than girls. The Year 12 retention rate for girls last year was 80.7% compared with 69.8% for males.

Mr McCorley said the Queensland plan was a little different to the NSW proposal. In NSW the human rights commission had found there was insufficient evidence that the causes of gender imbalance in primary schools might be addressed through a scholarship scheme favouring men. It said there was no reason the scheme could not operate on a less discriminatory basis with equal numbers of scholarships to men and women.

Mr McCorley conceded the Queensland Catholic Education Commission might also be forced to provide scholarships to women to avoid discrimination claims.

Courier Mail

Editorial: Finding ways to train more male teachers (Courier-Mail)
Queensland Catholic Education Commission
Human Rights Commission rejects Catholic male teacher solution (5/3/03)
Male teachers - Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (Media Release from Federal Education Minister Brendan Nelson, 3/3/03)
Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission - Notice of inquiry: Application for exemption under Sex Discrimination Act section 44: Catholic Education Office Scholarships for Male Trainee Teachers
Sydney CEO seeking discrimination law exemption (21/11/02)
Catholic Education Office Sydney
Catholic Commission for Employment Relations (NSW) | Submission to Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Enquiry
Male teachers drop out of NT schools (Northern Territory News 27/2/03)
Decline in male teachers continues (ABC)
School's in for male teachers (The Mercury 27/2/03))
A minority male makes teaching his primary aim (The Age 4/3/03)
Queensland Catholic schools need more male teachers (2/7/02)
Wanted: more teachers (Catholic Weekly 26/8/01)

6 Mar 2003