The President of the Shree Sanatan Dharam Pratinidhi Sabha of Fiji, Sarju Prasad has welcomed the decision of the Suva High Court and says that it is only right that appointments of heads of schools should be acceptable to the organisations that run the schools.
In the civil action case between the Ministry of Education and Vatuvonu SDA College and five trustees of the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Fiji, Justice A.L.B Brito-Mutunayagam had ruled the government is required to appoint a civil servant as Principal of Vatuvonu SDA College in terms of the Open Merit Recruitment Selection process and in a manner consistent with the constitutional right in section 22(4) which means that the proposed appointment must be acceptable to the Church.
The section states that every religious community or denomination, and every cultural or social community, has the right to establish, maintain and manage places of education whether or not it receives financial assistance from the State, provided that the educational institution maintains any standard prescribed by law.
Prasad says the organisations who run the schools should have some say regarding the appointments for heads of schools.
However, Prasad says it is important that heads of schools are appointed on merit.
When asked if he wants all Sanatan schools to have heads of schools who are Sanatan followers, Prasad says they have accepted Principals in the past who follow other faiths but appointments should be made on merit.
The Suva High court had also declined an application that was seeking to make certain that the Ministry of Education had the lawful right to appoint any suitable Head of School and any Acting positions without any interference from the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Fiji.
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