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EDUCATION

Call for more men to work in kindergartens

Minister for Family Affairs Sophie Karmasin (ÖVP) has said she wants to attract more men to work in kindergartens.

Call for more men to work in kindergartens
Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Kindergarten Cop. Photo: Virgin Media

Currently only 0.8 percent of all teachers are men. Karmasin said that she wants to spend some of the €305 million which the government has reserved for the further expansion of childcare on promoting jobs for men in this area.

"There is still much to do," Karmasin said at a press conference on Monday in Salzburg. "It’s very important for boys and girls in kindergarten to have caregivers of both sexes,” she added.

One possibility of how men might get an idea of what this job would entail would be to include it as an option in community service, which is obligatory for men, she said.

In Salzburg around two percent of kindergarten teachers and nursery assistants are male. The state government has committed to a higher starting salary for kindergarten teachers – which has made the job more appealing for both sexes.

Austria could also try drawing on the success of the film Kindergarten Cop (1991), in which Austrian actor Arnold Schwarzenegger attempted to break away from the action hero role and traded his gun for a gym whistle as he attempted to reign in a class of uncontrollable children. 

 

Theatrical release poster for Kindergarten Cop.  Photo: Universal Studios

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EDUCATION

Austrian MPs give green light to headscarf ban in primary schools

Austrian MPs on Wednesday approved a law aimed at banning the headscarf in primary schools, a measure proposed by the ruling right-wing government.

Austrian MPs give green light to headscarf ban in primary schools
Illustration Photo: AFP

So as to avoid charges that the law discriminates against Muslims, the text refers to any “ideologically or religiously influenced clothing which is associated with the covering of the head”.

However, representatives of both parts of the governing coalition, the centre-right People's Party (OeVP) and the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe), have made it clear that the law is targeted at the Islamic headscarf.

FPOe education spokesman Wendelin Moelzer said the law was “a signal against political Islam” while OeVP MP Rudolf Taschner said the measure was necessary to free girls from “subjugation”.

The government says the patka head covering worn by Sikh boys or the Jewish kippa would not be affected.

Austria's official Muslim community organisation IGGOe has previously condemned the proposals as “shameless” and a “diversionary tactic”.

The IGGOe says that in any case only a “miniscule number” of girls would be affected.

Opposition MPs almost all voted against the measure, with some accusing the government of focusing on garnering positive headlines rather than child welfare.

The government admits that the law is likely to be challenged at Austria's constitutional court, either on grounds of religious discrimination or because similar legislation affecting schools is normally passed with a two-thirds majority of MPs.

The OeVP and FPOe formed a coalition in late 2017 after elections in which both parties took a tough anti-immigration stance and warned of the dangers of so-called “parallel societies”.

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