SODELPA Leader Sitiveni Rabuka says he is disappointed by the refusal of the Minister for Education to consider the request from the Head of the Catholic Church in Fiji Archbishop Peter Loy Chong for dialogue on the appointment of school‑heads for faith based schools.
In a statement, Rabuka says the request by Archbishop Chong for dialogue and consultation with the government to reconsider its decision on open merit in the recruitment of heads of schools is a genuine one which needs to be addressed with sensitivity and in good faith.
Rabuka says the request is nothing to do with human rights or discrimination against any person.
The SODELPA Leader says it is a matter of principle and genuine occupational requirement given the nature of these schools, which are faith based.
Rabuka says the Minister for Education should realise that 95% of the schools in Fiji are not owned by government, but rather, are built and operated by different civil society organizations, including religious bodies.
He says majority of the schools in Fiji are owned and operated by different religious bodies including the Christian faith, Hinduism, Muslims and other faith based groups.
Rabuka says the Catholic Church through its missionaries together with the Methodist missionaries introduced formal education to Fiji as an integral part of their mission.
The SODELPA Leader says the marginalization of faith based institution started when government removed ethnicity from names of schools.
Rabuka says this incident should be a wake‑up call for the Bainimarama government to be sensitive to the role of religious bodies, civil society and non-profit organizations in the development of education in Fiji.
The SODELPA Leader says the government cannot provide all services, including education, for our growing population.
He says the Ministry of Education must work with, and dialogue with religious bodies who own faith‑based schools, with a view to a win‑win result.
We are trying to get comments from the Prime Minister and the Minister for Education.ADVERTISEMENT Listen to the latest news on our 5 radio stations Legend FM, Viti FM, Radio Sargam, FM96 and Navtarang.