Seanad Éireann - Volume 181 - 24 November, 2005

Matter raised under Standing Order 30.

  An Cathaoirleach: Senator White, I am sorry but I must interrupt you because I have received notice of a matter of concern from Senator Brian Hayes and it must be taken now.

  Mr. B. Hayes: Every day I ask myself the same question Senator White asked. What am I at?

  An Cathaoirleach: Senator Hayes has two minutes.

  Mr. B. Hayes: A Chathaoirligh, thank you for selecting this matter under Standing Order 30. It is a matter of genuine concern, involving the report published yesterday by a high-level group within the Department of Education and Science and many of the partners in education which shows that 18% of teachers at primary level are male, compared with 30% less than 15 years ago. I have asked for the matter to be debated today because we need to consider it.

Men who are in the teaching profession have always played a significantly important role, along with their female colleagues. If we are serious about encouraging more sport and recreation and PE within it is logical that we need more male teachers. The need for positive male role models in many communities, where there are single parent families and where there is not a large number of men, is another reason we need men in schools. I would have thought the positive learning experience that can be obtained from male teachers is an issue we need to explore also.

There are two issues I wish to raise. First, at present to obtain a place in a college of education to study primary school teaching one needs an honour in Irish in the leaving certificate. When it comes to encouraging more men into the profession, we need to look at this because at present twice as many females as males take honours Irish at leaving certificate.

  Ms White: Senator Hayes should go back to being a teacher.

[1799]   An Cathaoirleach: Senator Hayes without interruption.

  Mr. B. Hayes: Second, we may have to revisit the question of a quota if the numbers in the future dramatically reduce as they have done in the past 15 years.

This is a serious matter. A positive educational learning experience requires male and female teachers in primary schools. We need to ensure that in the future men are not an endangered species when it comes to teaching.

  An Cathaoirleach: I would ask Senator Mansergh to convey that matter of concern to the Leader.

  Dr. Mansergh: I will do so.