The Ministry of Education says it recognises that, with appropriate checks in place, teachers can maximise online platforms to establish professional relationships and direct lines of communication with parents and other teachers.
This is after the Education Ministry’s new social media policy says teachers should not accept or make “friend requests” from students or their parents on social media sites.
The policy states that if any exist, they should be “unfriended” immediately.
Some parents are concerned that this part of the policy will affect the professional relationship they have with their child's teacher.
These parents say that through being friends with their child's teacher on social media they are able to regularly communicate and get updates on their child's progress.
In response to questions by Fijivillage, the Education Ministry says it will be reviewing the policy to reflect this with a new code of conduct.
The Education Ministry says it remains committed to leveraging the accessibility of social media in ways that further the education of children, maintain communication channels with parents and protect the best interests of our teachers and safety of our students.
It says the social media policy is not intended to inhibit teachers’ freedom of association; rather, it is wholly intended to protect students and teachers from online abuse such as bullying, and in the case of students, from possible pedophiles who are able to hide their real identities.
The social media policy also says all Education Ministry staff should not post photos of students on social media.
It goes on to say that the Education Ministry staff should not be making negative comments in relation to the government, ministers or members of parliament.
They are also not allowed to make any comments in relation to national elections and the Ministry of Education.
Under the policy, social media means websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking.
It says these may include but are not limited to Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn.