2021 EC MENz Summit

A letter from the Office of Hon Anne Tolley, Minister of Education.

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By Rose French ⋅ October 30, 2009 ⋅

Men involved in early childhood education are calling for the Government to address the lack of male teachers in New Zealand.

Ministry of Education figures from October 2008 show just 1.3 per cent of early childhood teachers are men, which is the lowest rate among developed countries.

Chairman of Early Childhood Men New Zealand (EC-MENz) Russell Ballantyne says the Government needs to put more money into recruiting male teachers.

EC-MENz is an independent organisation seeking to create and maintain “male friendly” early childhood centres in New Zealand.

early childhood educators

Early childhood educators (from left) Justin Naish, Lyle Champness and Russell Ballantyne swing Elsha Bulmer (4) at Early Childhood on Stafford. The trio are encouraging men to join their profession. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.

It is not often three blokes could be considered a luxury.But in today’s early childhood education sector, people such as Russell Ballantyne, Lyle Champness and Justin Naish are a rare commodity, because only about one in every 100 early childhood teachers is a male.

What makes them even more extraordinary is they all work at Early Education on Stafford in Dunedin.

The trio are on a mission to change perceptions about men in early childhood education and show it is a rewarding and well-respected profession.

Mr Ballantyne, who has been in the job for 25 years, said the highly publicised court case of convicted Christchurch child-care worker Peter Ellis in the 1990s might have contributed to the decline in the number of men in the profession.

A fear of fostering relationships with children developed as a result.

“But the Peter Ellis case is part of the past. Early childhood education for males, we believe, is a very positive environment and men should be coming back to the profession.”