JOINT STATEMENT FROM THE MINISTER FOR EDUCATION AND FAITH BASED LEADERS
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 and emphasised that the Government was guided by academic education within which the culture and ethos of schools are promoted.
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 aligned to the open merit and recruitment selection guidelines, while also being mindful of the values-based mission that drives Fiji's many FBOs and the institutions they represent. In this context, it was agreed that appointments of civil servants, including heads of schools, would continue to be made by the Ministry based on merit.
Following previous meetings, it was re-affirmed that meaningful consultations will be held with FBOs in regards to hiring, and the Ministry will strive to ensure that a candidate's ability to uphold and foster the ethos of the school is considered before an appointment is made. As previously proposed, the Ministry will also revise its job descriptions to reflect this desire to attract candidates with shared ethos to each school along with the ability to support the ethos and traditions of a school, whether it be faith- or community-based. The Ministry committed to developing a formal policy to address these agreements in the longer term.
The Ministry and FBO leaders look forward to building upon the progress of this fruitful meeting in the weeks ahead, and to finding an educational framework that best serves all of Fiji's schools and, most importantly, the students who attend them.