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CEO head appeals to minor parties to back male teachers

Sydney Catholic Education Office head Br Kelvin Canavan is urging minor parties to support amendments to the Sex Discrimination Act that would open the way for male-only scholarships to address the problem of gender imbalance among teachers in Catholic schools.

Support of parties holding the balance of power in Federal Parliament is crucial to the passing of the legislation as the ALP has vowed to oppose it. At this stage such support is believed to be unlikely, but publicity surrounding the move has done much to raise public awareness of the problem.

Prime Minister John Howard has strongly supported the amendment, but the opposition believes it is a stopgap measure that undermines hard-won anti-discrimination legislation.

The Government's decision to amend the Act came as a surprise to the Catholic Education Office, whose application for an exemption so it could advertise men-only scholarships prompted the move. Executive director of schools, Br Kelvin Canavan, said he wanted to make 12 of the 60 scholarships the organisation offered each year men only.

"In Catholic primary schools in NSW just 14% of the teachers are men," he said. "Even younger children have said to me, 'why can't you find us more boy teachers'."

North Sydney's St Mary's Catholic primary school has not had a male teacher for about 10 years.

ABC Radio's The World Today reported yesterday that Br Canavan wasa calling for the minor parties to support the amendments, while admitting that offering more scholarships would provide only a very small fix for a big problem.

Teachers say their profession is undervalued (ABC Radio The World Today 10/3/04)
Lesson of boys 'lost on Latham' (Daily Telegraph 11/3/04)

Peter West: Boys will be boys with role models (The Australian 11/3/04)
Pru Goward: Better pay would lure more men into schools (The Australian 11/3/04)
Warning on male teacher plan (Herald-Sun 11/3/04)
PM stirs pot over male teachers (The West Australian 11/3/04)
Classrooms become political battlefield (ABC 7:30 Report 10/3/04)
Margo Kingston: Howard's affirmative action for men (Sydney Morning Herald 11/3/04)
Latham's Labor has let boys down (The Age 11/3/04)
Learning to teach in a woman's world (The Age 11/3/04)
Parliament to vote on men-only scholarships (The Age 11/3/04)
Latham fails test by rejecting sex law change - Howard (Sydney Morning Herald 11/3/04)
PM says shortage of male teachers in schools (ABC Radio The World Today 10/3/04)
CEO chief backs Minister's action on male teachers (CathNews 10/3/04)

11 Mar 2004