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The BBC's Christine Stewart
"It could be a tall order"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 4 July, 2000, 16:49 GMT 17:49 UK
Men in the nursery room
Whizzkids Nursery
Norman Maflahi and his young charges
The government wants to recruit 83,000 more childminders, particularly men and people from ethnic minorities. Two male child carers talk about their career choice.

Norman Maflahi, the manager of Birmingham's Whizzkids Nursery, knew when he was in school in the 1970s that he wanted to work with children.

But it wasn't until more than a decade later he got a chance.

"I'd been interested in home economics when I was at school, but boys weren't allowed to do it in those days.

"When the careers officer asked what I wanted to do, I never said child care. It wasn't something that men were going into then - teaching, yes, but with older age groups.

"My family were okay about it. They weren't too concerned so long as I got a job."

It's like being a role model to the children without a father

Mark Young

But child care vacancies were few and far between, and instead Mr Maflahi took a job in a warehouse, where he worked for 13 years before being laid off.

"It was a very tough time, a time of high unemployment. If you had a job, you stayed in the job."

While unemployed nine years ago, Mr Maflahi enrolled in a child care training course and has never looked back.

Initially, he had to win over a few sceptical parents.

"Occassionally they get the name wrong - they think Norma instead of Norman. Then they do come in and they find a male instead a female, and they do step back a bit."

Insight into childhood

On the staff at Whizzkids is Mark Young, 20, who recently completed his training.

His interest in working with children started after a stint of work experience at a nursery at age 14.

"I like seeing the kids grow up - seeing their first steps, their first words - and the parents are really nice."

His friends and family, too, support his career choice.

"It's like being a role model to the children without a father. And I'm a black male - you don't see many of us working in nurseries."

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See also:

04 Jul 00 | Education
Search for 83,000 child carers
06 Jun 00 | Education
Free places for all three year olds
01 Jul 99 | UK Systems
Pre-school education
18 May 00 | Education
Chasing pre-school targets
29 Mar 00 | Education
More money to rescue playgroups
15 Jun 00 | UK Politics
Grants for childminders
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