18th June 07:21 PM
Catholic Church in Fiji considering closing Catholic Schools in Fiji
By Timoci Qaranivalu
Sunday 20/01/2019
Archbishop Peter Loy Chong

The Catholic Church in Fiji is considering civil disobedience and even the closure of all its schools if they do not get Catholics to be appointed as the heads of their schools.

Tension was high as the Ministry of Education and the Catholic Church of Fiji held consultations on the Open Merit Recruitment System that has been implemented by the Ministry.

The Catholic Communications Office says that during the meeting, stakeholders, former and current teachers of Catholic Schools offered 4 different courses of action to take for their next strategy.

Archbishop Peter Loy Chong stated that the Catholic Church is going through a crisis but this gives the church the opportunity to listen to God's will in the Ministry.

Archbishop Chong later said that in his view, the Ministry of Education is only looking towards Economic Development rather than the development of values and character of the students.

The Four Action Plans are‑ Action Plan One: To initiate a critical self‑reflection and an organisational review on Catholic education in the areas of identity, character, quality of teachers and planning; e.g. the plan to upgrade Corpus Christi to a Catholic university.

Action Plan Two: To continue partnership with faith‑based communities and work towards partnership with the government. To strongly insist on a structure of consultation that would ensure trust and respect for the management of the school. The job description to include the following merit criteria ‘the candidate must be able to uphold the ethos and values of faith‑based and community owned schools’

Action Plan Three: To take an aggressive and urgent stand on the Church’s request to consider faith as a merit when considering appointments of Heads of Schools.

Action Plan Four: The Archdiocese considers civil disobedience which would include an open‑air Mass; and to close the 44 primary and 19 secondary schools.

The Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Education Allison Burchell who was present in the first session of the consultation had strongly stood by the decision of the Ministry in the implementation of the Open Merit Recruitment System.

Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Education Allison Burchell

Burchell says the system looks at a person’s qualification, knowledge, experience, skills and abilities.

She adds that the only way forward is to embrace change.

We are still trying to get further comments from the Ministry of Education and the Archbishop Peter Loy Chong.

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