Our education system and especially our primary education system is betraying a whole generation of boy pupils [Mail 13-Sep-95]. A leading American educationalist Spencer Holland blamed in particular a lack of male teachers in primary schools. His quick fix solution was to send men into the schools to act as mentors and role models to male pupils. A recent International literacy survey found that more than a fifth of adults in the UK i.e. some 8 million people could not perform simple comprehension tests. This places the UK second to last, i.e. above Poland but below Germany, Holland, Sweden, Switzerland, US, and Canada (Mail 12-Sep-97).
There are 4.7 times as many female teachers in primary (aged 5-13 years) schools compared to male teachers. In secondary schools (aged 13-18 years) the teacher ratio is about even. It is often stated that there are no male teachers at the primary level because the pay is so bad. This is only half the story, there are now many unemployed male teachers. It is still an accepted predudice by men and women that the raising of young children is ‘womens work’.
UK Schools have many barriers to involvement by fathers. Some fathers report that they are excluded by other mothers when they collect their children. The school timetable is not helpful to fathers who work, there are frequent holidays that may not coincide with the fathers own holidays. The school may often be sited an inconvenient distance away from where men traditionally work.
Access courses are ‘back to work’ initiatives for mainly mothers paid for by government. So while funding is being withdrawn from our brightest university students who now have to ‘pay as they go’. Mothers receive free entitlement to be educated not once but twice.
Women ‘resource centres’ receive generous local and EEC funding. For example the Cambridge Women’s Resource centre currently receives 250K a year grant to offer training courses to women that exclude men. Many of these women-only courses are provided in areas of record male unemployment which is often three times the unemployment rate of women. Such apartheid practices in South Africa provoked an international boycott.