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  • CATHOLIC DISCERNMENT TO THE OPEN MERIT
  • CATHOLIC DISCERNMENT TO THE OPEN MERIT 1
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  • Faith Community Leaders Meet the Minister of Education
CATHOLIC DISCERNMENT TO THE OPEN MERIT1 CATHOLIC DISCERNMENT TO THE OPEN MERIT 12 a13 Faith Community Leaders Meet the Minister of Education4
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Open Merit Recruiting Selection & Globalization
Published by February 16, 2019
Archbishop of Suva
Peter Loy Chong
pchong@archdioceseofsuva.com
?The Open Merit Recruiting Selection Policy is supported by the World Bank.? This was revealed by Jane Curran (OMRS consultant) and Alison Burchell (Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education) in their meeting with Faith Based School representatives on 8th January, 2019. Economic Studies and research argue that The World Bank....more
CATHOLIC WOMEN'S LEAGUE PRESENT A CHEQUE TO ARCHBISHOP PETER
Published by February 15, 2019
Director of Communications
John Pickering
communications@archdioceseofsuva.org
Today, representatives of the Catholic Women's League paid a visit to Nicolas House to present a cheque of $94,000.00 to Archbishop Peter in support of the education of the Diocesan Seminarians at the Pacific Regional Seminary. This practice of supporting the education of our Diocesan Seminarians began.....more
REQUIEM MASS AT THE CATHEDRAL OF THE SACRED HEART: FR. MICHAEL FITZGERALD SM
Published by February 15, 2019
Director of Communications
John Pickering
communications@archdioceseofsuva.org
Today we bid farewell to Fr. Fitzgerald or Fr. Fitz as he was commonly known to many of us, especially his students from St John's College, Cawaci. Fr. Fitz was born on 14 September, 1946 and at 6.20am on Monday 11 February 2019 he was called to eternal rest after suffering a massive stroke. He was professed in the Society of Mary.......more
SYNOD FORMATION WEEKEND
Published by February 09, 2019
Director of Communications
John Pickering
communications@archdioceseofsuva.org
156 Delegates to the Diocesan Synod to be held from June 7-9, 2019 are gathered at the St. Joseph's Secondary School Hall for a weekend of formation. The delegates are studying the working documents that will guide the reflection, discussion and conversation for the Synod in June. Topics include 1. Church and Sacramental Life ......more
From Archbishop Peter Chong
Published by February 05, 2019
Archbishop of Suva
Peter Loy Chong
pchong@archdioceseofsuva.com
Dear Catholic Brothers and Sisters; Thank you for your prayers and support during our meeting with the Minister of Education. The Minister of Education has in principle agreed to our three requests: 1. Consult with the management of a faith communities before appointing a head of school conducted by that faith based organisation. ......more
Statement by the Faith Communities Leaders regarding the
Open Merit Recruiting Selection (OMRS)
Published by February 05, 2019
Archbishop of Suva
Peter Loy Chong
pchong@archdioceseofsuva.com
Madam, Honourable Minister for Education, the Faith Community Leaders are very happy to attend this meeting to discuss with you an issue central to our calling and obligations as faith leaders, and which is attracting much public attention, namely education. Thank you, Madam, for your generosity and understanding. ......more
ARCHBISHOP'S SUBMISSION TO THE JOINT STATEMENT
Published by February 05, 2019
Archbishop of Suva
Peter Loy Chong
pchong@archdioceseofsuva.com
The talanoa-style meeting was held in good spirit, and the Hon Minister pledged to have an open, direct and mutually-respectful dialogue with the religious leaders as appointments are made going forward. The parties confirmed common ground in numerous ways to improve the appointment process ?? methods that are both ......more
JOINT STATEMENT FROM THE MINISTER FOR EDUCATION AND FAITH BASED LEADERS
Published by February 05, 2019
Archbishop of Suva
Peter Loy Chong
pchong@archdioceseofsuva.com
Yesterday morning, at the invitation of the Ministry of Education, Heritage and Arts, leaders of Fiji's faith based organisations (FBOs) met with the Hon Minister Rosy Akbar to candidly discuss the issue of appointments of heads of school. The Minister recognised the important role that FBOs had played, and continue to play, in education ......more
SYNOD FORMATION WORKSHOP
Published by February 05, 2019
Director of Communications
John Pickering
communications@archdioceseofsuva.org
The Delegates to the 2019 Diocesan Synod will meet this weekend 9-10 February at the St Joseph's Secondary School Hall. The delegates will engage in prayerful reflection and deeper understanding of the 7 Subject Papers. This will initiate further discussion and conversation as part of the preparation for the Diocesan Synod......more
ARCHBISHOP PETER CHONG'S HOMILY on Srs LANIETA NAULU and SEREANA NAQARASE'S FINAL PROFESSION
Published by February 02, 2019
Archbishop of Suva
Peter Loy Chong
pchong@archdioceseofsuva.com
ARCHBISHOP PETER CHONG'S HOMILY on Srs LANIETA NAULU and SEREANA NAQARASE'S FINAL PROFESSION ?My eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared for all the nations to see, A light to enlighten the pagans and the glory of Israel.? Perpetual Vows & Presentation of Jesus in the Temple......more
PERPETUAL VOWS OF RELIGIOUS PROFESSION AT THE CATHEDRAL OF THE SACRED HEART
Published by February 02, 2019
Director of Communications
John Pickering
communications@archdioceseofsuva.org

Today, Sr. Lanieta Naulu SOLN and Sr. Sereana Naqarase SOLN pronounced their final vows in the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Nazareth at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in a celebration of the of the Eucharist led by Archbishop Peter Loy Chong and a number of priests. Sr Lanieta hails from......more

Faith Community Leaders Meet the Minister of Education
Published by February 01, 2019
Archbishop of Suva
Peter Loy Chong
pchong@archdioceseofsuva.com

The Faith Community Leaders will meet with the Hon. Minister of Education, Ms Rosy Akbar on Monday 4th February 12.00 noon to discuss 'School Heads'. I ask you all to pray for this important meeting. I ask our Catholic Priests to include a prayer for the meeting in the Prayers of the Faithful......more

February
BIRTHDAY CELEBRATIONS AT THE CURIA OFFICE
Published by January 31, 2019
Director of Communications
John Pickering
communications@archdioceseofsuva.org
BIRTHDAY CELEBRATIONS AT THE CURIA OFFICE
For our January babies we extend a hearty Happy Birthday to Archbishop Peter and Sr Mariana Tevurega. May there be many more years to celebrate. Ad Multos Anos!...........more
SCC and Seven Steps Bible Sharing session with the Auckland Catholic Community.
Published by January 30, 2019
Archbishop of Suva
Peter Loy Chong
pchong@archdioceseofsuva.com
SCC and Seven Steps Bible Sharing session with the Auckland Catholic Community.
Good attendance. Some familiar faces: SR Frances Rosema
Mr Lawrence and Nigel SCC - A w Way to Church Today ...........more
SCC And Bible Sharing session in Hamilton
Published by January 28, 2019
Archbishop of Suva
Peter Loy Chong
pchong@archdioceseofsuva.com
SCC And Bible Sharing session in Hamilton Fiji Catholic Community with Archbishop Peter ...........more
Methodist Church wants direct approach to Education Minister..
Published by January 25, 2019
Archbishop of Suva
Peter Loy Chong
pchong@archdioceseofsuva.com
Methodist Church in Fiji President Reverend Doctor Epineri Vakadewavosa and Minister for Education Rosy Akbar The Methodist Church in Fiji says they want the Ministry of Education to come to the table and have constructive dialogue on the call being made for Headteachers and Principals of faith based schools to be of the same faith...........more
TISI Sangam says call by the Catholic Church....
Published by January 24, 2019
Director of Communications
John Pickering
communications@archdioceseofsuva.org
By Vijay Narayan Thursday 24/01/2019 TISI Sangam says the call by the Catholic Church needs to be listened to as there are others making the same call including TISI Sangam Fiji. TISI Sangam Fiji President Sadasivan Naicker says as a multi faith based and socio educational, cultural and religious organization, TISI Sangam fully supports..........more
THE Seventh-day Adventist Church has joined......
Published by January 22, 2019
Archbishop of Suva
Peter Loy Chong
pchong@archdioceseofsuva.com
THE Seventh-day Adventist Church has joined other faith-based organisations to call on Government for faith-based organisations to be included in the recruitment process of their schools. This year, after three years of pleading with Government to consider faith or religion as a criteria in the selection of teachers and school leaders.........more
Private schools, the State and Religion
Published by January 22, 2019
Archbishop of Suva
Peter Loy Chong
pchong@archdioceseofsuva.com
Private schools, the State and Religion: being fair to both sides. Fiji Sun, 28 February 2013. 27/02/2013 tags: Brother Fergus, Catholics, Demographics, education, Indo-Fijians, Marist Brothers, Nuns, religion, school fees, School management, School zoning, State Private schools, the State and Religion: being fair to both sides. Fiji Sun.........more
Ashwin Raj pounces on Archbishop
Published by January 20, 2019
Director of Communications
John Pickering
communications@archdioceseofsuva.org
By Professor Wadan Narsey I had originally intended this to be a post-script in my previous post, but this incident is so typical of the deep cancerous malaise that currently afflicts Fiji, that I post this separately] Ashwin Raj is not only the Director of the Hu­man Rights and Anti-Discrimina­tion Commission (HRADC), but also Chairman........more
As a faith-based institution
Published by January 20, 2019
Director of Communications
John Pickering
communications@archdioceseofsuva.org
Josaia Naulumatua Rayawa
19 January, 2019 Allow me to present this from a different angle. Put aside for the moment that we are also taxpayers and just consider yourself as bible believing and faith-based individual for now. As a faith-based institution we just need to be gently.......more
Education PS defends policy
Published by January 19, 2019
Archbishop of Suva
Peter Loy Chong
pchong@archdioceseofsuva.com
Catholic School's heads and administrators present during their meeting at Sacred Heart Cathedral on Thursday, January 17, 2019. Picture: JONA KONATACI A HEATED argument broke out between Education Ministry permanent secretary Alison Burchell and stakeholders of Catholic schools during a meeting at the Sacred Heart Cathedral .......more
Churches attack Government's open merit
Published by January 19, 2019
Archbishop of Suva
Peter Loy Chong
pchong@archdioceseofsuva.com
TWO major faith-based organisations which run a number of schools in the country have joined forces to openly criticise Government on its decision to appoint school heads based on open merit recruitment and selection (O MRS) guidelines. Methodist Church in Fiji president the Rev Dr Epineri Vakadewavosa and the head.......more
MINISTER FOR EDUCATION LACKS UNDERSTANDING....
Published by January 19, 2019
Archbishop of Suva
Peter Loy Chong
pchong@archdioceseofsuva.com
The following statement was issued today by Sitiveni Rabuka, the Leader of Opposition & Party Leader of the Social Democratic Liberal Party. I am disappointed by the refusal of the Minister of Education to consider the request from the Head of the Catholic Church in Fiji Archbishop Peter Loy Chong for dialogue on the appointment of school-heads.......more
The Right of Religious Communities or Denominations...
Published by January 19, 2019
Archbishop of Suva
Peter Loy Chong
pchong@archdioceseofsuva.com
The right of religious communities or denominations under Art.22(4) of the Fiji Constitution to 'establish, maintain and manage' places of education, includes by extension a legal right to choose a principal of the same faith. To the extent that the OMRS derogates from that right, I would respectfully suggest that it must defer to the supreme law......more
STATEMENT BY Hon Ro Teimumu Kepa
Published by January 19, 2019
Archbishop of Suva
Peter Loy Chong
pchong@archdioceseofsuva.com
I wish to add my voice to the current divisive and troubling education controversy about merit in appointments of teachers and principals. I also express my support for recent education statements by the Leader of the Opposition. He spoke of the poor state of the Government's education system, criticized its policy on appointments and.......more
CATHOLIC DISCERNMENT TO THE OPEN MERIT
Published by January 17, 2019
Director of Communications
John Pickering
communications@archdioceseofsuva.org
Archbishop Peter Chong, after consultation with his advisors decided that he would initiate a discernment process to further reflect on the issue of the OMRS. This was to be a consultative process that will include prayer, critical reflection and a strategic plan of action, informed by the data, recognising the feelings of education leaders, and inspired.......more
EDUCATION IN FIJI BR. FERGUS GARRETT fms
Published by January 17, 2019
Director of Communications
John Pickering
communications@archdioceseofsuva.org
In the last few years there have many changes in our educational administration. Some would say we now have an Education Ministry of ?total control?. The owners of schools can do nothing except pay for new buildings. There has been a complete takeover and the owners have been slow to realize the creeping growth of the control and have.......more
Update of the Archdiocese of Suva's Response to OMRSS
Published by January 14, 2019
Archbishop of Suva
Peter Loy Chong
pchong@archdioceseofsuva.com
Dear beloved Fiji Catholics, Thank you for your support and prayers in our commitment to promoting and protecting the Catholic Character of our schools, in particular by having a Catholic Principal. I want to locate the current debate regarding Faith Based Schools and the Open Merit Recruiting Selection System in the context of the protecting and.......more
Lest We Forget!
Published by January 16, 2019
Director of Communications
John Pickering
communications@archdioceseofsuva.org
What to many may appear to be a tussle between Church and State on the recent statements made by Archbishop Peter Loy Chong on Catholic Education and the Open Merit System implemented by the Ministry of Education is cause for great interest and indeed serious reflection. The Archbishop's statements have even been labelled as......more
School Reopens for 2019
Published by January 14, 2019
Director of Communications
John Pickering
communications@archdioceseofsuva.org
SCHOOL REOPENS FOR 2019
We wish all our Head Teachers, Principals, Teachers and Students a blessed start to the 2019 Academic School Year......more
Diocesan Events Calendar 2019
Published by January 14, 2019
Archbishop of Suva
Peter Loy Chong
pchong@archdioceseofsuva.com

11-27 Jan Diocesan Seminarians Holiday Bonding Camp

8-10 Feb Synod Members Formation Team

13-15 Feb St Joseph Brothers Planning Workshop ......more

To Our Catholic Education Community
Published by January 12, 2019
Archbishop of Suva
Peter Loy Chong
pchong@archdioceseofsuva.com
The Faith Based School managers and I are currently engaged in a robust dialogue with Ministry of Education regarding OMRS We seek your prayers and support. 1. Fiji Council of Churches meeting - raised concern over appoint of school heads to faith based schools 2. Archbishop and a group of Faith based academics wrote a communication......more
Archbishop Letter to The Honorable Minister of Education...
Published by January 12, 2019
Archbishop of Suva
Peter Loy Chong
pchong@archdioceseofsuva.com

Greetings from the Roman Catholic Church Fiji. Congratulations on your appointment as the Minister of Education and best wishes for the New Year. Honorable Minister, the Roman Catholic Church has passionately committed herself to the education of the Fijian people over the last 70 years. We own 19 secondary and 44 primary schools and provide......more

Requiem Mass for Dr. Frank Hilton OBE OF
Published by January 10, 2019
Director of Communications
John Pickering
communications@archdioceseofsuva.org
I Frank Hilton was farewelled today at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart today by priests, religious, dignitaries, friends, family and colleagues. A trail blazer in the area of Special Education in Fiji, Frank Hilton was born in England in 1920. He fought in the Second World War, later moving his young family to Australia where he taught in public schools .....more
Faith Based Schools Response to Open Merit....(OMRSS)
Published by January 9, 2019
Archbishop of Suva
Peter Loy Chong
pchong@archdioceseofsuva.com
I speak on behalf of the Faith Based Communities which includes the Fiji Council of Churches. In 2018, the FCC was concerned with the appointments of leadership in our schools and its consequences to the unique culture of the schools. I was tasked to write a paper that expresses our concern. Through the Director of Catholic Education.....more
Frs P. Mataca & P.Sanele
Published by January 3, 2019
Archbishop of Suva
Peter Loy Chong
pchong@archdioceseofsuva.com
Frs Petero Mataca and Petero Sanele at Nadi Airport on their way to the East Asian Pastoral Institute, Manila to do the Pastoral Leadership and Management for Mission Course as part of their Sabatical Program. The course begins January 6 and finishes in June 29, 2019.
Please keep them in your prayers. They join Fr. Inia Tikolutu.....more
Happy New Year Ifiremi
Published by January 1, 2019
Archbishop of Suva
Peter Loy Chong
pchong@archdioceseofsuva.com
We just gifted Ifiremi a much needed wheel chair on New Years Day. The wheel chair was donated by Lusi and Voroka (USA).
Ifiremi will get a little movement in the house.
Children can drive him around Damodar City once in a while.
Vinaka Lusi and Voroka.....more
 
January
CATHOLIC DISCERNMENT TO THE OPEN MERIT
His Excellency, The Most Reverend
Archbishop Peter Loy Chong
Asks for your support and prayers in this process of continued discernment
Fiji Catholic Archdiocese of Suva
v Our Mission
v Principles of Catholic Doctrine

“The Open Merit Recruiting Selection Policy is supported by the World Bank.”

“The Open Merit Recruiting Selection Policy is supported by the World Bank.” This was revealed by Jane Curran (OMRS consultant) and Alison Burchell (Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education) in their meeting with Faith Based School representatives on 8th January, 2019.

Economic Studies and research argue that The World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) and their Structural Adjustment Programs is the reason why many developing nations are in debt and poverty. The World Bank and IMF lend money to develop the economy of Third World Countries. When Third World Countries cannot pay their loans, the World Bank and IMF instructs them to carry out a structural adjustment program (SAP), that is to adjust their economic development plans so that they are more market oriented and therefore able to pay their debt. However, the World Bank and IMF determine the criteria of the SAP and often times it brings further poverty and not development.

The World Bank and IMF through SAP instructs Third World Countries to reduce government spending on essential services like health, education, other public sectors and development, reduce tax of high-income earners, deregulation and make debt repayment and other macroeconomic policies (like OMRS) a priority. 

SAPs have been heavily criticized for many years for causing poverty. In addition, SAP has increased the dependency of Third World Countries on richer nations. This is despite the IMF and World Bank's claim that they will reduce poverty.

Many intellectual observers and economists have noted that IMF and World Bank policies are not principally meant to alleviate poverty in developing countries but to advance the agenda and economic interests of the West.

Globalization believes in the free market system which is addicted to privatization. Privatization promises better services. And so, many countries have been privatizing essential services for the last 250 years, which means they have diverted resources from the common good and put them into the private sector.

Is this the reason why the Fiji Government plans to privatize Lautoka and Ba hospitals and other social services (e.g. electricity)? Is this also the reason why the Minister of Education openly encourages the privatization of schools? 

When governments privatize basic essential services, they hand over their role of service to a company with a market and profit culture. A company's primary value is profit not service. When a government privatizes she hands over her duty for the common good to the private sector or a company. People pay taxes so that the government can provide essential services. Some countries pay high taxes and in return the government provides free health care. If we are to pay for health care and education then the government should reduce our taxes.

So, who is our government serving? Who do they put first, the Fijian people or World Bank?

St. Pope John Paul II makes it clear that the policies governing structural adjustment loans are in direct contrast to the virtue of solidarity and hence unethical.

Catholic Social Teaching poses three important questions regarding reforms and development projects: How do people participate in the decision making? What does it do for people? What does it do to people?

Who benefits from OMRS reform? Who is at the center of the OMRS?

Renowned Protestant Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann, in his book ‘An Other Kingdom' states globalization has a number of tentacles and education is one of them. Globalization corporatizes education to serve the market culture.

Globalization promises a development that will trickle down to the poor. History tells us that this has not happened. The rich get richer and poor get poorer. The gap between the rich and the poor continues to widen. Globalization which thrives on free-market is like a ship with no map, no direction and headed for wreck. If the ship does not change course it will run into a reef.

Pope Benedict alerts us to the injustices caused by globalization and the Structural Adjustment Program in his Encyclical, ‘Caritas in Veritate' (Integral Human Development). He states, “Budgetary policies (like SAP), with cuts in social spending often made under pressure from international financial institutions, can leave citizens powerless in the face of old and new risks; such powerlessness is increased by the lack of effective protection on the part of workers' associations.” (Caritas in Veritate, 25)

Faced with the negative impacts of globalization, the Catholic Social Teachings insists that the human person should be the center of any economic policy (not the World Bank). St. Pope John Paul II introduces the ‘principle of solidarity' as a theological response to globalization. Pope John Paul II teaches that the virtue of solidarity is not ‘a feeling of vague compassion or shallow distress at the misfortune of so many people both near and far. On the contrary, it is a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good (and planetary good); that is to say to the good of all'. He adds that solidarity shares the two-fold fundamental characteristics of justice, namely: the mutual equal relationship with others and the commitment to the good of others and the common good.

The Catholic Social Teachings reminds politicians and governments that they too serve the common good and must put the human person at the center of their development and reform policies.

Faith Community Leaders Meet the Minister of Education - Feb 01/2019

https://scontent.fsuv2-1.fna.fbcdn.net/?/50903743_225234105?

The Faith Community Leaders will meet with the Hon. Minister of Education, Ms Rosy Akbar on Monday 4th February 12.00 noon to discuss 'School Heads'.

I ask you all to pray for this important meeting.

I ask our Catholic Priests to include a prayer for the meeting in the Prayers of the Faithful.

I ask the Divine Mercy Groups to pray for the meeting when you pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet.

Teachers and children offer a prayer for me and the Faith Leaders on Monday morning.

Catholic Families - light a candle to Mother Mary and offer a decade of the Rosary for our meeting with Ms Rosy Akbar.

Catholic Education is at the heart of the Church and we need pray and work towards this goal.

I thank you for you support and prayers.
We plant the seed, God will see to the growth of the seed.

May God bless you all.

Archbishop Peter Chong

Methodist Church wants direct approach to Education Minister to intensify
By Vijay Narayan
Wednesday 23/01/2019


Methodist Church in Fiji President Reverend Doctor Epineri Vakadewavosa and Minister for Education Rosy Akbar
The Methodist Church in Fiji says they want the Ministry of Education to come to the table and have constructive dialogue on the call being made for Headteachers and Principals of faith based schools to be of the same faith.

Church President Reverend Doctor Epineri Vakadewavosa says it is say what is happening now.

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Reverend Vakadewavosa says over the past years, Methodist Church run schools have always had Methodist Principals and Headteachers. He stresses that they have never had a person of another faith as the head of their school.

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The Methodist Church runs 17 Primary schools and 14 Secondary schools in the country.

Reverend Vakadewavosa says that the displacement of its preferred candidates for leadership positions prevents church schools from providing quality education and undermines human and constitutional rights.

He then goes on to say that the current initiative in the Ministry of Education prefers non-religious belief over religious belief.

Reverend Vakadewavosa says that recent media reports have highlighted the turmoil caused under the Open Merit Recruitment System where relevant competent experience including religious development curriculum has been relegated in preference for high academic qualifications.

He says that direct approach to the Minister for Education should intensify and a national education forum to review the situation is needed.

Minister for Education Rosy Akbar is yet to comment.

TISI Sangam says call by the Catholic Church needs to be listened to

By Vijay Narayan Thursday 24/01/2019

TISI Sangam says the call by the Catholic Church needs to be listened to as there are others making the same call including TISI Sangam Fiji.

TISI Sangam Fiji President Sadasivan Naicker says as a multi faith based and socio educational, cultural and religious organization, TISI Sangam fully supports the Catholic Church in its call for Catholics to be appointed as the heads of their schools.

Naicker says TISI Sangam has operated as a socio educational, cultural and religious organization since 1926.
He says today, provision of education remains their core occupation and they currently own and manage numerous pre school centres, 21 primary, 5 High schools and a Tertiary Institution the Sangam College for Nursing.
Naicker says while their schools are open to students of all religious faiths and backgrounds, maintaining the identity and ethos of the visions of Sadhu Kuppuswamy and Sangam is a defining feature of their schools.

He says TISI Sangam has always maintained that consultation by the Ministry of Education with the school management on Heads of Schools is important to promote the educational vision for Fiji.

Naicker says Heads of Schools appointed to community operated schools need to be familiar or well versed with the foundation values and vision of the schools.

TISI Sangam says it is calling on the Ministry of Education to consult the controlling authorities of the schools before appointing and finalizing the position of school heads.

When asked on whether they only want TISI Sangam heads of schools for their schools, Naicker says they want the Ministry to come and consult with them first before they make any appointments for their schools.

Source: fijivillage.com

THE Seventh-day Adventist Church has joined other faith-based organisations to call on Government for faith-based organisations to be included in the recruitment process of their schools.

This year, after three years of pleading with Government to consider faith or religion as a criteria in the selection of teachers and school leaders appointed to Seventh-day Adventist schools, the church has chosen to privatise Navesau High School in Tailevu.
General secretary of the Adventist church in Fiji, Pastor Joe Talemaitoga says the church supports the call made by the head of the Catholic church recently to include faith as a criteria in the selection of leaders for faith-based schools.
Mr Talemaitoga said the church was now financing the salaries of 18 former civil servants who were recruited by the church to teach at Navesau.
?The church now pays for the salaries of teachers and ancillary staff and accepts the fact that no grant (free education grant) will be provided by the Ministry of Education,? Mr Talemaitoga said.
Dr Nemani Tausere, the director of education for the church in Fiji, said the church had written to the Education Ministry and had discussions with the former and current permanent secretaries, Minister for Education and the Prime Minister to consider faith or religion as a criteria in the selection of teachers and school leaders appointed to Seventh-day Adventist schools, but on all occasions their request was denied.
?The church commends the MOE on the introduction of the open merit recruitment system (OMRS). However, the church believes that in the field of education, unlike some other departments in government, the Ministry of Education should consider an additional and important criteria in the selection process of teachers and school heads,? Dr Tausere said.
He says more than 95 per cent of schools in Fiji are owned and operated by faith-based organisations and it would be only advisable and respectful that faith be included in the recruitment criteria of school heads.
?The role of teachers and especially school leaders in the operation of schools is vital and pivotal in the total development of a child ? mentally, physically, socially, and morally,? Dr Tausere said.
?As a faith-based organisation, we believe that the OMRS criteria used ? knowledge, experience, skills and ability (KESA) ? falls short of what is most important and meaningful in the life of each person who wants to commit his or her best to the position he is applying for in the delivery of quality education to our children for a better Fiji.?
As part of its action plan, the Catholic Church Archdiocese was now considering a civil disobedience mass and to close its 44 primary and 19 secondary schools.
The Arya Pratinidhi Sabha maintains that the ministry must consult the management on the appointment of the school head to ensure that the incumbent fits in and upholds the school's culture along with academic requirements.
The Methodist Church says that the displacement of its preferred candidates for leadership positions prevents faith-based schools from providing quality education and undermines human and constitutional rights.
Questions sent to the Fiji Muslim League and the Assemblies of God church last Friday on their stance regarding this issue remained unanswered when this edition went to press last night.

Private schools, the State and Religion: being fair to both sides. Fiji Sun, 28 February 2013.
27/02/2013
tags: Brother Fergus, Catholics, Demographics, education, Indo-Fijians, Marist Brothers, Nuns, religion, school fees, School management, School zoning, State
Private schools, the State and Religion: being fair to both sides. Fiji Sun, 28 February 2013.

Professor Wadan Narsey

Fiji's private education authorities (Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Chinese, Gujarati etc) are one of the great success stories of Fiji's development, which Fiji needs to publicly acknowledge and celebrate.

We may be a Third World country economically, but our education system continues to ensure that our graduates can reasonably compete with the students of developed countries like Australia, NZ and US, on a fraction of their budgets.

In the last few years, however, there have been four controversies (three open and one hidden) which have badly affected the morale of our private education authorities.

The three open controversies have been over the ?school zoning? effort by the Ministry of Education, the imposition of uniform funding rules on schools, and the recent one regarding student's participation in religious rituals.

The fourth and largely hidden controversy has been over the independence of private managing authorities to appoint school principals, deputies, Heads of Departments, and even teachers .

In all of these four controversies, there appear to be convincing arguments on both sides- great material for the TV series, Boston Legal.

Unfortunately, none of these four controversies have been resolved amicably and sensibly, as needs to happen, through rational transparent dialogue between the Ministry of Education and the private education authorities.

Instead, an emotional public have generated a lot of heat but little light, in Letters to the Editor and radio talk-back shows.

To put the opposing views into perspective, look at three important trends in Fiji's education system.

The first is that the vast majority of students in Fiji are taught in schools managed by private education authorities, and seen by the public to be of better quality than the government managed schools.

Second, there is a profound decline in the numbers of Indo-Fijian school children, forcing their education authorities to become far more multiracial than before.

Third, government now funds the bulk of the salary and non-salary costs of private schools.

Private authorities are top tier

Ministry of Education annual reports show that some 95% of Fiji's primary and secondary students are taught by private education authorities.

What has never been published, however, is that by most objective criteria (national examination pass rates, grades received, or the overall quality of education broadly defined), the private schools are perceived to be of higher quality than government schools (although Natabua, Labasa College and ACS are also in the top tier).

Undoubtedly, the quality of the management of private school authorities has to be a major explanatory factor. They would say ?If it ain't broke, don't fix it?- don't interfere with their school management.

The demographic changes

The public are pretty much aware from the latest 2007 Census that Indo-Fijians, once above 50% of the population, are now down to below 37%.

What the public are less aware of is the extent to which the balance has swung even further at the lower primary school age, because of the impact of the emigration and much lower fertility rates of Indo-Fijians, .

The graph shows roughly the number of places required at Class 1 for the different ethnic groups from 1986, projected to 2023.

Graph

Six year olds
1986 1996 2007 2013 2023
iTaukei 8370 9679 10335 11158 11744
Indo-F 8184 6550 4228 4596 2944
From a high of around 8184 in 1986, the number of Indo-Fijians of age 6 declined to around 4596 this year, and will decline even further to 2944 in ten years time (while indigenous Fijian numbers have kept rising).

Putting it crudely, if all Indo-Fijian children of age 6 were to be taught by only Indo-Fijian education authorities, then of the 8184 places already provided in 1986, only 4596 places would be needed today, ie making way for 3588 places (or 44% of the original) for children of other races.

By 2023 (ten years time) some 5240 places (or 64%) of the original Indo-Fijian places, would be filled by other races and Indo-Fijians will be only one in five of class 1 enrolments.

This trend will apply to all other age groups over time.

If Indo-Fijian education authorities wish to remain open to serve their communities, then they MUST admit children of other ethnic groups and religions, as they are indeed already doing (colleges like ?Indian College? needed a name change already given that iTaukei were more than 80% of the enrolment).

It is to the great credit of the Indo-Fijian education authorities (like Sanatan Dharam, Arya Samaj, Sangam, Muslim, Gujarat etc), that there has been no attempt (not that I am aware of) to impose their own religious beliefs or practices on the students of other races and religions attending their schools.

Can they reasonably expect reciprocal policies by other religious groups?

Government is main funder

What is also not published by the Ministry of Education is the proportion of schools' costs which are paid for by the tax-payers through the Ministry of Education.

First, most of teachers' salaries and non-salary costs paid for by governments and tax-payers to the extent that while private education authorities have built the schools, more than 80% of their funding comes from tax-payers via the Ministry of Education.

Tax-payers also fund all the Ministry of Education's work in curriculum development and national assessment schemes without which the private education authorities could not operate.

Last but not least, it is the tax-payers who continue to fund the bulk of teacher training, which keeps replenishing the stock of trained teachers, perpetually being gutted by emigration.

Should ?he who pays the piper call the tune??

Is Government justified in ?interfering??

Given their level of funding, it is not surprising that the Ministry of Education should feel that they have a legitimate right to determine school policies in a number of critical areas and they have tried.

Zoning

Undoubtedly, students are inefficiently crisscrossing all over the country to attend schools of their choice, leaving closer schools relatively empty.

MoE tried to tackle this by zoning rules, forcing students to attend the schools nearest to their place of residence.

This drew the ire of religious or cultural authority schools who legitimately point out that they built their schools for their own communities, through their own community effort and it was unreasonable to ask their students to attend other schools, while they opened up to students of other denominations.

The MoE realized quietly that this policy had far more weaknesses.

How could they apply it to their own government schools like QVS, RKS, ACS, Natabua and Labasa College?

Would such a policy tend to condemn students from poor areas to concentrate in particular schools, while students from rich areas would end up concentrated at their own schools, creating a kind of ?apartheid??

How could government interfere with the freedom of choice of parents and students?

The public have no idea what exactly has happened to this ?zoning? policy.

Uniform school fees

No doubt a response to the reality that some schools were extremely well endowed with funds because of higher fees being charged while others were deprived, the MoE decided to restrict the fees to a limit, at one stage about $90 per student per year.

Many better off schools saw this as totally unreasonable in that they could not provide the quality education that they and the parents wished, at such low fees.

Some school management toyed with the idea of becoming totally independent of government- but realized that they would end up penalizing the poorer students from their own community while serving rich families of all communities.

There was also a totally unintended impact of this restriction. With a low limit set, schools were prevented from accumulating the larger amounts necessary to endow the school with adequate facilities and equipment, that could be enjoyed by all, rich and poor students alike.

The school would tend to end up with poor facilities for all the student (rich and poor), while the rich students would still enjoy better quality of education through their own private higher expenditure at home or elsewhere.

Religious rituals

The public have been very energized over a parent's request that her daughter should not have to attend a Catholic mass at the Catholic school she was enrolled in. This rule was strange indeed.

The Marist Brothers Schools I attended never forced any non-Catholic students to take part in Catholic rituals such as the Mass.

Non-Catholics were simply encouraged into an alternative class discussing good morals and ethics, or their academic studies.

Readers might like to read the excellent history of the centenary of Marist Brothers in Fiji, compiled by Brother Fergus, which documents thoroughly, how the early Marist Brothers struggled to provide education to non-Catholics and non-whites in Fiji.

Often they had to go against the wishes of the colonial government, and sometimes, even against the views of the Catholic Church itself, and sometimes at great personal cost.

[My review of the book ( https://narseyonfiji.wordpress.com/?/the-marist-brothers-i?/ ]) suggested that historians should write down the histories of the nuns in Fiji as well as that of all the private education authorities who have contributed so much to Fiji.]

Note in relation to the current crisis that if the Ministry of Education were to succeed with its school zoning policies, then there will be many students who have to attend schools of denominations other than their own.

Given Fiji's support of a secular state, Government, as the funding authority, can reasonably request school authorities to not insist that all students must attend their religious rituals.

The education authorities, including the Catholics, might wish to engage in national dialogue and come to some agreement about common generally acceptable rules, that do not impose any one's religious beliefs on others simply because of the school they attend.

School appointments

The MoE naturally feels that it they are paying the salaries, they should be able to appoint principals, deputy principals, heads of subjects, or even specialist teachers. Often, unfortunately, this is driven by teachers' union or MoE HQ politics.

School managements however believe that the success of their schools, depends on their ability to hire staff they are comfortable with, who share their values, and who will implement their policies.

Some school managements have been bluntly told by MoE that if they insist on making the appointments, then they must pay the full salary of the staff concerned- quite an onerous burden.

Yet MoE cannot interfere with the core management right to appoint key staff who are expected to implement the authority's school management policies.

One would think that a compromise is easily possible where the MoE and education authorities agree on an ?appointment premium? (say 20% of the salary) which is paid by whoever (the MoE or the school management) wishes to decide the appointment (while the other 80% is paid by MoE).

Such a compromise would allow schools to weigh up in a more nuanced way, how much their choice of staff appointment is worth to them.

A national conference of school authorities.

Annually, school principals and school teachers have very useful conferences at which they discuss issues affecting them.

To my knowledge, there has never been an annual conference of only school management authorities, focusing only on their management issues.

One of the Fiji universities might wish to organize such a national conference and include on the agenda, the four controversies discussed in this article.

While at it, they may as well tackle as another controversy that has disappeared from view: should the MoE reverse its policy decision to abolish national exams?

There wasn't any great public debate about that either, was there? Readers may read my take on it two years ago:

The Marist Brothers in Fiji: 1888-1988: A Book Review The Fiji Times. 30 November 2010]

Yet this issue may be just as important for the long term quality of Fiji's education system AND a ?bread and butter? issue for Fiji families, as ?what rules to set for political parties? or ?how the Fiji Parliament is to be elected? about which there is so much hooh hah currently.

By Professor Wadan Narsey

?Ashwin Raj pounces on Archbishop? (20 Jan. 2019)

[I had originally intended this to be a post-script in my previous post, but this incident is so typical of the deep cancerous malaise that currently afflicts Fiji, that I post this separately]

Ashwin Raj is not only the Director of the Hu­man Rights and Anti-Discrimina­tion Commission (HRADC), but also Chairman of the Media Industry Development Authority (MIDA), all his salaries and perks paid for by taxpayers.

In the recent controversy, Raj pounced on the head of Ro­man Catholic Church in Fiji (Arch­bishop Peter Loy Chong) who had made the request that the Ministry of Education to recon­sider having members of the faith to head its schools and that ?faith? be an element of the Open Merit Recruitment Selection System (OMRSS) used for selecting the principals of the schools they owned.

Both requests are perfectly reasonable one would think (see the opinion pieces in the Fiji Times by Brother Fergus Garrett, John Pickering and myself) that the owners of a school be allowed to appoint a principal who they believed would best serve their faith in the administration of the school, its culture and ethos, in providing a ?complete education? to the children willingly sent to their schools by their parents (not just Catholics).

But oh no.

Ashwin Raj came out (Fiji Sun 15 January 2019) all guns blazing, with grand ?straw man? pronouncements which totally ignored the substance of the archbishop's request, such as (with my comments in parentheses):

?The right to religious orientation is not under threat because this is protected by the Constitution? (no one raised this at all)

?The call for faith-based schools to be led by principals of that particular faith will en­courage racial profiling based not only on faith but other prohibited grounds of discrimination? (why would it?)

?was contrary to the principles of equality and non-discrimination. Soon there will be calls to have schools to be led by individuals from a particular ethnic com­munity or indeed teachers of a preferred race or religion? (how ridiculous to draw this conclusion when there was clearly no such wish);

?it would oppress multi­culturalism, tolerance and diversi­ty that children should be encour­aged to practice? (how utterly ridiculous given that the Catholic Education Society had historically fought for multiracialism in Fiji's education system and had been in the forefront of providing education to non-white children of Fiji).

Raj opposed the Archbishop's request for the inclu­sion of ?faith? into the OMRS policy for their Catholic schools alleging ?faith is arbitrary and subjective in nature? and that ?its inclu­sion will only give credence to discrimi­nation? (oh dear, so also subjective might be any number of characteristics required for a good principal)

Raj threw in another straw man into the works by demanding to know whether ?Fiji was reverting to the old policy of af­firmative action by giving into the call to include faith into the Open Merit Recruitment System?. (as if the policy of affirmative action was heresy in the first place. The need for affirmative action for indigenous Fijians in business or education may have been shoved out of out of sight for the moment, Ashwin, but have no fear that it is a festering cancer whose effects will be revealed one day).

But how utterly extraordinary that Ashwin Raj should trivialize a serious request by the Head of the Catholic Church that the owners of a school be allowed to appoint their own principal.

Can you imagine the Tappoos or R.C.Manubhais being told that they could not appoint their own Gujarati family members as CEOs of their family owned companies because they received some subsidy from taxpayers?

More ominous is what Raj refuses to see or act upon

While proudly revealing that his commission had last year defended the right of a high school student to wear a head scarf because of her ?faith?, Ashwin Raj (the Director of HRADC) energetically pounces on the Head of the Catholic Church by alleging that his request to appoint Catholic Principals of schools owned by the Catholic Education Society on the basis of ?faith?, is tantamount to ?discrimination? banned by the Bainimarama Government's Constitution.

So why has this belligerent warrior against discrimination never publicly questioned:

the blatantly unfair discrimination practiced in the media which he is supposed to regulate as Head of MIDA: that the Fiji Sun is totally unfairly given a monopoly on government advertisements despite the fact that the Fiji Times has greater circulation;
the apparent lack of meritorious career police officers to head the Fiji Police Force (while a military officer is chosen);
the apparent lack of any meritorious prisons officers to head the Fiji Prisons Service (while a military naval officer is chosen);
the apparent lack of any meritorious Fiji citizen to appoint as President of Fiji, other than a former military officer or chief or an indigenous Fiji (or why no woman or a non-Christian has ever been qualified to be appointed as President- even if they are apparently qualified to serve on international bodies).
Why is it that this belligerent warrior for basic human rights (or the Director of Public Prosecutions) has never publicly questioned why there have been no prosecutions for horrible violations of the basic human right to life (forget the right to wear a head-scarf):

such as in a well publicized case of a prominent public individual causing death by dangerous driving (case quietly tucked away under the carpet: is the police investigating anyone at all? Or the DPP?)
the many unlawful deaths of persons in the custody of the armed forces and police which have all be shoved under Ashwin Raj's massive carpet (these unlawful deaths will never go away even if Fiji reps are appointed to world bodies supposed to protect human rights).
It is ominous for Fiji that despite being paid by taxpayers' funds, Ashwin Raj chooses to investigate not what his professional, ethical and moral responsibilities most urgently require him to, but what his political masters require him to, however trivial the matter.

The public can judge for themselves whether Ashwin Raj himself was appointed by the Bainimarama Government purely on ?meritorious? grounds that he aggressively trumpets.

Unfortunately, Ashwin Raj is not the ?one swallow? in the ?Bainimarama/Khaiyum summer? of civil servants in responsible positions, paid for by taxpayers's funds, choosing to serve their political masters rather than the public interest.

It is similarly an utter tragedy that one can similarly see the Fiji Police Force devoting scarce public resources on pursuing dubious cases, such as that associated with Leader of Opposition, Sitiveni Rabuka).

It is an utter tragedy when one reads the comments by the highly paid PS Education that because Fiji is a secular state, the principal of a school owned by Catholics, should not be required to be Catholic? Apparently not a problem in Australia, or NZ or South Africa.

Indeed, on what ?meritorious? grounds was this particular PS appointed;

Indeed has Aswin Raj ever questioned why Fiji citizens or many suitably qualified (?meritorious??) senior public servants have been bypassed and many foreigners appoint to high places, even though they apparently belong to that class of people (?foreigners?) who Constitution Review Chairman Yash Ghai should never have consulted, according to Raj's Prime Minister, Bainimarama, when using that as his justification for burning the Ghai Draft Constitution (forgetting that there were Fiji citizens on that Commission as well, like Professor Satendra Nandan, Taufa Vakatale and the late Peni Moore).

Post by Josaia Naulumatua Rayawa
19 January, 2019

Allow me to present this from a different angle. Put aside for the moment that we are also taxpayers and just consider yourself as bible believing and faith-based individual for now.

As a faith-based institution we just need to be gently reminded, and jolted if need be, that the "ball is really in our court". If the answer to the Education policy dilemma is to pursue privatization to ensure that the next generation contribute effectively to a society better than today, then have the faith to stand on it and build up on that vision. A faith driven approach allows us to "render only to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is truly God's". Without the faith to stand up, we only have ourselves to question and not the state. We can't blame the state for being the state. To use a referencing from the Bible, for us to rely on the state to carry a faith driven vision, will be like 'putting new wine into old wineskin', knowing it will burst anyway.

St Paul aptly reminds us, " Without faith, No man can please God". When God is pleased, He moves mountains, even moving the heart of Caesar . But only when our faith is put into action.

Governments all over the world, in general, only understand the power of voting blocs. The voice of the voting bloc can only be heard clearly through faith. They will respond when that voice of faith is heard in the form of a voting bloc. Other than that, everything else is mixed messages out there in the real world.

Put faith into action. And yes, I do support the Archbishop's view but it is not his view alone that will get things done. The body needs to carry its own vision and not expect the state to do so, irrespective of the fact that we may be deemed loyal taxpayers. Regardless of your political afilliation, our paying taxes is a responsibility of a citizen. You render it to Caesar anyway.

As followers of Christ, lets ask ourselves, do we really believe God can do it? My take is that if we believe then we will see. Our dilemma is perhaps we want see first, then believe. As we can see, the "new wine" is already spilling because we are pouring our trust into the state.

We need wisdom too.

Education PS defends policy

LITIA CAVA19 January, 2019, 3:35 pm
Catholic School's heads and administrators present during their meeting at Sacred Heart Cathedral on Thursday, January 17, 2019. Picture: JONA KONATACI
A HEATED argument broke out between Education Ministry permanent secretary Alison Burchell and stakeholders of Catholic schools during a meeting at the Sacred Heart Cathedral crypt in Suva on Thursday night.

The arguments from the stakeholders were based on the fact that the appointment of a school leader must not only be based on the applicant's ability to satisfy the knowledge, experience, skills and abilities that were identified in the ministry's open merit recruitment and selection (OMRS) system, but the word ?faith' must also be embedded in the selection criteria of school heads.

Corpus Christi Teachers College principal Remesio Rogovakalali argued that the policy does not state any faith, beliefs or values.

He said faith-based schools not only looked after the interest of students' physical well-being, but also their spiritual wellbeing.

He said having such a principal would help ensure that students' wellbeing were well looked after.

Catholic educationist Mere Fong said they were aware that faith could never be mentioned in the interview process nor in the documentation.

?We can leave out the word faith and refer instead to attitudes that reflect universal values (love, dedication, respect, peace, kindness, courtesy, etc) to which we all espouse; this should be added to the requirements in the job description,? Ms Fong said.

In her response, Ms Burchell said the Constitution clearly stated that all schools would be open to students from all faiths and that teachers would also be included.

?We note students of different religions in your Catholic schools, we have teachers of all religions and that to me enriches technicality, the different views, the outlook of the school and in particular the students,? Ms Burchell said.

?The fact is that we are a secular state and we need to understand what that means when we operate, so the religious instruction component is different from the issue of appointing a head of school.

?The rich diversity in Fiji and each of our schools ? we need to make sure that we are feeding their thirst for knowledge and should not be restricted to a particular faith, but taking in the value that could be added and should be added and must be added by the different faith.

?It is an added value to the process as we see it,? she said.

Churches attack Government's open merit practice in faith-based schools

LITIA CAVA19 January, 2019, 1:03 pm
Catholic School's heads and administrators present during their meeting at Sacred Heart Cathedral on Thursday, January 17, 2019. Picture: JONA KONATACI
TWO major faith-based organisations which run a number of schools in the country have joined forces to openly criticise Government on its decision to appoint school heads based on open merit recruitment and selection (O MRS) guidelines.

Methodist Church in Fiji president the Rev Dr Epineri Vakadewavosa and the head of the Catholic Church of Fiji, Archbishop Peter Loy Chong said the Education Ministry must add faith-based merit criteria to its OMRS system.

Mr Vakadewavosa said the displacement of preferred candidates for leadership positions prevented church schools from providing quality education and undermined human and constitutional rights.

?We have lost key school positions held previously by our own members, along with the expected diligence in our institutions for Methodist education and nurturing.

?The school system already fails to sustain students in their faith, the society's ills highlighted by the police, corrections and health services are testimony to the harm ultimately caused.

?The school leaders are the ones who decide what is done in school in religious matters,? he said.

Archbishop Chong said as part of the consultation with his advisers, the Archdiocese considered civil disobedience which would include an open-air mass; and to close their 44 primary and 19 secondary schools.

Archbishop Chong said during a meeting with Catholic school educationists on Thursday, the participants offered the following courses of action for the Bishop to discern as he planned his next strategy.

He said a recommendation to initiate a critical self-reflection and an organisational review on Catholic education in the areas of identity, character, quality of teachers was proposed, the selection criteria of the principal must include the responsibility of supporting and promoting the ethos and values of faith-based schools.

?To take an aggressive and urgent stand on the church's request to consider faith as a merit when considering appointments of heads of schools.?

The Arya Pratinidhi Sabha of Fiji in a statement stated it had always maintained that the head of its schools be a teacher of merit.

?As much as it is desired that the head of its schools should be a teacher who belongs to our faith, the Sabha is and has been of the view that this may not be possible in every case given the social circumstance.

?The Sabha, however, maintains that the ministry must consult the management on the appointment of the school head to ensure that the incumbent fits in and upholds the school's culture along with academic requirements.?

Background
Archbishop Peter Chong, after consultation with his advisors decided that he would initiate a discernment process to further reflect on the issue of the OMRS. This was to be a consultative process that will include prayer, critical reflection and a strategic plan of action, informed by the data, recognising the feelings of education leaders, and inspired by the Holy Spirit. The process was to help the Archbishop develop strategies on how the Church would continue to systematically and spiritually respond to OMRS.

This discernment was part of the process that began with a meeting of Faith-based schools with the Permanent Secretary, Education Alison Burchell and the Consultant to the reform, Jane Curran.

Since there were strong reactions in social and mainstream media, to the sudden appointments of non-Catholic principals to Catholic schools, particularly to Xavier College and St. Thomas’ High School, Archbishop Chong wrote a letter to the Minister for Education, Hon. Rosy Akbar, requesting that the two Monfort Brothers remain in their positions. He did not a get a favourable answer to his request, and felt that he had to find other ways of approaching the issue, thus the discernment process with Catholic education leaders.

STEP ONE
Ms Burchell and Ms Jane Curran were invited to speak on the OMRS to the group of fifty Catholic education leaders. Below is the summary from their presentations and question and answer session.

1. Education is about the future of the children, so the government needs to identify where we want to go and ensure that we have the ability to move forward.

2. OMRS is a sensitive issue because it is about change and challenges; but it is always for good. It aims to develop a high ranking unit to implement efficient government services.

3. OMRS is an organisational framework that is part of the Civil Service Reform; and has a history and is grounded in the constitution. It aims at higher performance.

4. OMRS is a process that includes selecting the best applicants for the leadership positions. The process is about opening things up – right person right job and qualification knowledge and ability. It is about open transparency and offers guidelines for reforms while maintaining consistency across all ministries.

5. OMRS recognise that there should always be partnership and consultation with School Managements so that open dialogue can contribute to the success of the school, and sustain a healthy working relationship with the wider community.

The Open Merit Recruitment and Selection (Education) framework is the government’s effort to armour our children for the challenges in the future. It offers a framework that includes processes that will ensure the selection of the best applicants for the leadership positions. However, it is evident that in order to ensure a trusting partnership, there needs to be better consultation amongst all stakeholders.

STEP TWO
The Archbishop presented his ideas on the close relationship of Catholic Schools and the Church.

The participants were then asked to go into 6 Groups and reflect on the following questions:

1. How do you feel as you look into the future of the church and its moral obligation in preserving and promoting the identity/character of the catholic schools?
2. What is the Holy Spirit telling us to pass on to the Archbishop about Open Merit Recruitment and Selection (OMRS)?

3. Name one practical action that would respond question 1 and 2

At the end, each Group presented their answers. These were analysed and synthesised. Below is a synthesis of this discernment process:

Feelings
It was evident that many of the participants had strong emotions and feelings about the issue, during the Q &A and the group discussions. There was a mixture of feelings from being threatened and betrayed to feelings of hope and being energised. At the end of the exercise, it was clear that the group felt challenged but they were “fired up” by the Holy Spirit to continue to join the Archbishop in carrying out his moral obligation in preserving and promoting the identity/character of the Catholic schools.

Course of Action
The participants offered several different courses of action for the Bishop to discern as he plans his next strategy. see Archbishop’s notes

Action Plan One
To initiate a critical self-reflection and an organisational review on Catholic education in the areas of identity, character, quality of teachers and planning; e.g. the plan to upgrade Corpus Christi to a Catholic university.

Action Plan Two
To continue partnership with faith-based communities and work towards partnership with the government.
To strongly insist on a structure of consultation that would ensure trust and respect for the management of the school. The job description to include the following merit criteria ‘the candidate must be able to uphold the ethos and values of faith-based and community owned schools’

Action Plan Three

To take an aggressive and urgent stand on the Church’s request to consider faith as a merit when considering appointments of Heads of Schools.

Action Plan Four
The Archdiocese considers civil disobedience which would include an open-air Mass; and to close the 44 primary and 19 secondary schools.

Archbishop concluded the discernment process by thanking the participants for their discernment and advice. He will take their advice into prayer, further consultation and discernment to arrive at the most effective response.

MINISTER ROSY AND ASHWIN RAJ SHOW ARROGANCE AND SHALLOW UNDERSTANDING IN RESPONSE TO ARCHBISHOP LOY CHONG'S REQUEST
MINISTER FOR EDUCATION LACKS UNDERSTANDING AND SENSITIVITY
OF THE CONTRIBUTION OF RELIGIOUS ORGANISATIONS TO EDUCATION AND NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT IN FIJI

16 January 2019

The following statement was issued today by Sitiveni Rabuka, the Leader of Opposition & Party Leader of the Social Democratic Liberal Party.

I am disappointed by the refusal of the Minister of Education to consider the request from the Head of the Catholic Church in Fiji Archbishop Peter Loy Chong for dialogue on the appointment of school-heads for faith based schools.

Archbishop Peter Loy Chong with children of Tamavua Parish at their confirmation
Source

Hon. Akbar has been supported by misguided commentary from the Director of Human Rights. The actions and pronouncements of Hon. Akbar and Ashwin Raj show their arrogance and shallow understanding of the education system in Fiji.

The request by Archbishop Loy Chong for dialogue and consultation with the government to reconsider its decision on the open merit in the recruitment of head of schools is a genuine one which needs to be addressed with sensitivity and in good faith.

Archbishop Loy Chong and Minister Rosy Akbar
Source

The request is nothing to do with human rights or discrimination against any person. It is a matter of principle and genuine occupational requirement given the nature of these schools, which are faith based.

The current Minister of Education under the Bainimarama Regime, should learn from history and appreciate backgrounds and origin of education in Fiji. Most importantly, she should realise that 95% of the schools in Fiji are not owned by government, but rather, are built and operated by different civil society organizations, including religious bodies. Majority of the schools in Fiji are owned and operated by different religious bodies including the Christian faith, Hinduism, Muslims and other faith based groups.

As a former student of Xavier College, and given both the PM and learned AG are also products of Catholic schools, Hon. Akbar ought to know better.

Personal ego should not override national interest.

These schools have produced many national leaders and citizens who have contributed to national development, wherever they serve - in homes, in communities, civil society, corporate sector, in all levels of Government, and in international and regional fora.

St. Thomas High School, Lautoka, also owned by the Catholic Church
In January 2013, after consultationswith St.Thomas School Board Members and His Grace Archbishop Peter Mataca and Catholic Education of Fiji, St. Thomas High School was entrusted to the Montfort Brothers of St.Gabriel Bro Sahayaraj, took over as the first Principal for the academic year 2013.
Source: http://www.yercaudprovince.com/st_thomas_high_school_lautok?

The Catholic Church through its missionaries together with the Methodist missionaries introduced formal education to Fiji as an integral part of their mission.

Successive governments since independence have had a mutually productive, cooperative and cordial relationship with religious bodies running educational institutions through dialogue, mutual respect and understanding. This is one of the main reason why education in Fiji has been very successful, and Fiji had one of the highest literacy rates in the world as a result.

8 QVS and nine St John's College students studied at Marist Brothers High School following the severe damage St John's and QVS suffered when Cyclone Winston hit the country in 2016.
Source

The marginalization of faith based institution started when government removed ethnicity from names of schools.

The regime meddled further during the interim period after 2006 when it removed external examinations from schools for a few years - this misguided action had a far more detrimental and far-reaching effect on students, families, and communities, than having schools with ethnic based names, or school heads of the same faith being appointed to head particular faith-based schools, ever will.

Like the rest of Fiji, faith-based organisations were also oppressed by the Public Emergency Regulations and the Public Order Decrees - annual religious conventions were banned, even weekly prayer meetings for Methodists, Hindus, Catholics required meeting permits from the Police during those dark days.

Unfortunately the oppression and discrimination for religious bodies and civil society in Fiji is not over, given this latest saga.

Communities who built their own schools and named the school based on ethnicity to show pride and achievement because they value the importance of education in their own respective communities. Such initiative within the community created a sense of unity, inclusiveness and self-sufficiency.

Marist Brothers High School students in a jubilant mood during the Marist Brothers bicentennial celebrations in Suva (Source)

This incident should be a wake-up call for the Bainimarama government to be sensitive to the role of religious bodies, civil society and non profit organizations in the development of education in Fiji.

The Government cannot provide all services, including education, for our growing population.

The Ministry of Education must work with, and dialogue with religious bodies who own faith-based schools, with a view to a win-win result.

Education, for the good of our future generations, is the key to our national development. It is not a zero-sum game where winner takes all, as the FFP like to ?win? every battle it picks. No-man is an island, we must all work together for the good of our children.

The dismal state of our education sector demands a bipartisan approach. SODELPA recommends a National Education Commission to conduct a holistic review and listen to all stakeholders on the best way forward for our education system taking into account the demand and dynamics of the labour market.

I hope and pray that the government should take a more consultative approach and engage in robust dialogue approach in addressing all issues of national interest and those that affects the daily lives of the people of Fiji.

- ENDS -

______________________________________________________________________

Authorised by

Hon. S. L. Rabuka
Leader of Opposition & Party Leader, SODELPA

 
 
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Feb 16th 2019

"The Open Merit Recruiting Selection Policy is supported by the World Bank." This was revealed by Jane Curran (OMRS consultant) and Alison Burchell (Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education) in their meeting with Faith Based School representatives on 8th January, 2019. Economic Studies and research argue that The World Bank.......more

 
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