By Lin Ferguson - Wanganui Chronicle

Four years ago: A keynote speaker at the Early Childhood MenZ Summit in Wanganui said it was heartening to see that men are now realising a career in early childhood education is a viable option.

Dunedin Early childhood education lecturer Tagiilima Feleti said the number of men showing interest in early childhood education was growing rapidly.

The summit held at Born and Raised Pasifika Early Childhood Centre in Aramoho recently was a huge success, he said.

It was the first time the summit, which has been held annually for six years, had been held in Wanganui and more than 100 early childcare workers, mostly men, attended.

Mr Feleti said the nightmare of the 1993 Christchurch Civic Creche case [Peter Ellis] was slowly receding from people’s minds.

“Sadly it still has a slight historical impact, but nothing like it did.”

Talking to the men at the summit was very rewarding, he said.

He told them how he had arrived in Dunedin in 1995 and how his father-in-law had set up a job at a factory for him.

“I did that for a while, then a woman, a friend of my wife, persuaded me to leave the factory and start studying in early childhood education. It was the best thing I ever did.”

Mr Feleti said lecturing in early childhood was rewarding.

“I love to have discussions with my students and to see my male students so involved and happy with what they are doing is so great because both men and women need to be nurturers and that’s what this is all about.”

Last year, the release of the government’s early childhood education taskforce report had signalled big changes ahead.

NZ Childcare Association chief executive Nancy Bell said developing teachers’ practice was uppermost.

“Early childhood education has to be of high quality if it is to be beneficial and this is particularly critical for very young children and for children facing disadvantage.”

Mr Feleti agreed, saying every small child should have access to high-quality Early Childhood Education.