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CEO chief backs Minister's action on male teachers

Sydney Catholic Education Office executive director Br Kelvin Canavan has welcomed Federal Education Minister Brendan Nelson's efforts to overturn sex discrimination laws in order to open the way for gender-specific scholarships to encourage more men to become teachers.

Dr Nelson told parliament yesterday he wanted to give government and non-government schools permission to offer gender-specific scholarships. He will introduce amendments to the Sex Discrimination Act in the House of Representatives today. He said it is "a sensible and important initiative" that would be used only in situations where the gender imbalance needed to be redressed.

The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission denied the Catholic Education Commission an exemption from discrimination laws last year. The appeal against this ruling would be bypassed if Dr Nelson gets his way.

He told the Sydney Morning Herald that he welcomes any initiative encouraging more young men to become teachers, if the initiatives did not discriminate against women.

Women win more than 80% of scholarships that the Sydney Catholic Education Office offers. In Catholic primary schools in NSW, just 14% of teachers are men.

After deciding last year to offer extra scholarships for men only, Catholic educators unsuccessfully approached the human rights commission for a five-year exemption from sex discrimination legislation. An appeal against the rejection is expected to be heard next month.

Br Kelvin said the Catholic Education Office would seek legal advice over whether that appeal would be necessary if the Federal Government's bid to amend the Sex Discrimination Act succeeded.

Nationally, only one in five primary school teachers is male and only 18% of trainee primary school teachers are men. Of 7000 early childhood education students, only 250 are men and the situation is worsening.

Outcry at Nelson plan to woo male teachers (Sydney Morning Herald 10/3/04)

Teaching scholarships for men only (The Advertiser 10/3/04)
ALP refuses to back male teachers plan (ABC 10/3/04)
Discriminating to put more men in classroom (The Australian 10/3/04)
Male scholarships to boost teachers (The Courier Mail 10/3/04)
Teaching for balance: males only need apply (The Age 10/3/04)
Labor rejects PM's resolve to back Catholics on male teachers (CathNews 23/2/04)
Catholic Education Office Sydney
Catholic Education Commission NSW
Federal Minister for Education

10 Mar 2004