Education ministry to appeal High Court decision

Students of Vatuvonu Adventist College during a school assembly. Picture: FT FILE/LUKE RAWALAI

THE Ministry of Education will appeal the ruling made by the High Court in relation to the appointment of school heads whose salaries are paid by the Fijian Government.

In a statement, the ministry expressed its concerns that the High Court’s decision provided the basis for unconstitutional religious tests for individuals hired by the Government and paid by taxpayer funds.

“In the interest of providing Fijian students the highest possible quality of education, the ministry maintains its commitment to the policy of open-merit recruitment and selection for all teachers, head teachers, principals and heads of school, ” the ministry stated.

“The ministry remains fully supportive of faith-based organisations who wish to offer religious teachings, encourage religious values or hold prayers for their students in schools they manage. We look forward to working closely with faith-based organisations to advance the Fijian Government’s historic agenda in educating young Fijians while upholding the separation between different religious practices and the State, as enshrined in the Fijian Constitution,” it added.

The High Court ruled last Friday that the management and control of the Vatuvonu Adventist High School in Cakaudrove would be returned to the Seventh-Day Adventist Church.

The ruling also gives orders to the Ministry of Education to appoint a principal for the school that is “acceptable to the church”.

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