19th January 03:51 AM
Status quo remains for school head appointments
By Vijay Narayan
Tuesday 14/01/2020

The Education Ministry can make school head appointments based on the Open Merit Recruitment System as the government has already received a stay order on the High Court ruling earlier handed down by Justice A.L.B Brito-Mutunayagam in the civil action case between the Ministry, Vatuvonu SDA College and five trustees of the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Fiji.

The stay means that the status quo remains and the court ruling is not in effect as the government and other parties await the final decision of the Fiji Court of Appeal.

Justice Mutunayagam had earlier ruled that the government is required to appoint a civil servant as Principal of Vatuvonu SDA College in terms of the Open Merit Recruitment Selection 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.

He had also declined the application by the Attorney General's Office that sought an order that the five trustees of the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Fiji do not interfere with the Ministry of Education's right to appoint any suitable Head of the School and any Acting positions.

SODELPA MP, Niko Nawaikula claims in a Facebook post that Education Minister, Rosy Akbar has openly admitted to the media that she and her ministry are continuing to break the law on appointment of Principals in church schools, and he says as a lawyer, he shivers at how relaxed and confident Akbar is at openly flouting and breaking the law.

However Fijivillage has received confirmation that the stay has already been granted on the earlier ruling by the High Court and the Ministry of Education can follow the same system of appointments as they await the Court of Appeal ruling. This means the law has not been broken as alleged by the SODELPA MP.

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