2nd ECMENZ Summit 2008

Men who work in early childhood education and care services throughout New Zealand are to meet next week to discuss ways to encourage more men to join their profession. The 2nd Men in ECE Summit, dubbed ‘Te Whakamaanu’ – The Launching, is to be held from 9th-10th February at the Whitireia Polytechnic in Porirua. This initiative was undertaken by practicing male educators who formed a support and lobby network titled ECMENZ ( Men in Early Childhood Network of New Zealand) last year.

The organisers of the summit are concerned that New Zealand has one of the lowest rates of male participation in early child education. Only 1% of the early childhood teacher workforce in teacher-led, Government-funded New Zealand ECE services is male. This gender imbalance has continued to remain unchallenged as early childhood education is traditionally seen as a women’s occupation. Researchers suggest an increase in numbers of men would add male perspectives to children’s education; teach boys that nurturing is a male disposition; encourage more fathers to take part in the education of their young children; provide valuable encounters with safe and caring males for mothers who have had negative experiences of men; and help resolve teacher shortages.

Notable speakers at this year’s summit will include Kenny Pence, an active campaigner for increasing male early childhood teachers in the UK, and New Zealand researcher Sarah Farquhar who co-organized last years summit.

This years summit has been generously supported by Whitireia Polytechnic, Te Tari Puna Ora o Aotearoa/ NZ Childcare Association, AUT , Auckland University,  NZEI (New Zealand Educational Institute), ECC (the Early Childhood Council) and the Ministry of Education.