A PLANNED hunger strike that was to begin yesterday by a group of parents and 11 students in Labasa has been cancelled with the protesting party claiming they were dispersed by the police.
Instead, the group has decided to take the matter to court.
Party representative Rajesh Lal said they had contactedtheir lawyers and would begin legal proceedings against the Education Ministry soon.
Parents and students of Labasa SKM College had planned the hunger strike to air their opposition to the ministry's decision to award 11 Form Seven students zero in their Fiji Seventh Form Examinations biology paper last year.
"We talk about justice and transparency as the way to move the country forward and a great injustice has just been committed to our children in that they have been deprived of their chances to a promising future," said Mr Lal.
"Our children have been deprived and violated of their rights to having an equal opportunity to good education.
"The team had come to hold their enquiry on the ground and word from the officials here was that there was no malpractice, now what is the ministry basing its evidence on?"
Mr Lal said the students have been victimised and that the decision was a ploy by the officials to save their own skins.
"The ministry's level of transparency is clearly shown by the way it chooses to keep their findings private," he added.
The chief supervisor of Labasa SKM College's seventh form exam, Samuela Tuidravu, said he had submitted his report to an enquiry team from the ministry.
In it he stated there was no malpractice on the students' part during the exams as claimed by the ministry.
"All procedures were properly followed and there were no signs of malpractice as claimed," said Mr Tuidravu.
"Claims of malpractice are baseless since we, including the assistant supervisors, have all been interviewed and we have all stated that there was no copying during the exams."
Acting Education Minister, Viliame Naupoto confirmed on Monday they would stick to their original decision of awarding the students zero marks for malpractice.
"We are satisfied with our enquiry team's findings and we will stick to our initial decision," he said.
In another development yesterday, Acting Police Commander north Acting SSP Fulori Rainibogi refuted claims by the aggrieved group that the police dispersed the group.
"We visited the group to warn them and to talk to them about keeping the public peace and working with the government in reaching a peaceful amicable solution to their differences with the Ministry of Education," said Acting SSP Rainibogi.
"I was, however, happy that the group chose to be responsible citizens and disperse.
"The safety and security of the public at large remain our main concern and we will step in if it is tempered with."