Archbishop Peter Chong's Letter to
The Honorable Minister of Education
Mrs. Rosy Akbar
11th January 2019
RE:Xavier and St. Thomas High School Non-Catholic Principals
Dear Honorable Minister,
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 employment for about 1,021 Teachers. Catholic Education is centered on the following special principles and practices.
• Education that is Centered in Christ
• Integral education – more than an education geared towards worldly success; "the Catholic school sets out to be a school for the human person and of human persons."
• Education that provides both intellectual and moral formation
• Education that transmits divine truths - Catholic schools take up the daunting task of freeing boys and girls from the insidious consequences of what Pope Benedict XVI has called the "dictatorship of relativism" – a dictatorship that cripples all genuine education.
• An education system that nurtures the Catholic Culture and practices of the school - through images, symbols, icons, and other objects of traditional devotion. A Catholic School will have a chapel, classroom crucifixes and statues, liturgical celebrations (Prayer & meditation, Eucharist, Sacraments, retreats, devotions) and other sacramental reminders of Catholic life, including good art that is not explicitly religious in its subject matter, should be evident. All these signs embody the culture of Catholicism.
As Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Suva I have a responsibility of protecting and promoting Catholic Education.
The Catholic Schools unique culture and values have educated worthy leaders like Ratu Kamisese Mara, the current Prime Minister, Mr. Frank Bainimarama and Hon. Mr. Saiyad Kaiyum. I am told by Xavier College Alumni that you also benefitted from Catholic Education through Xavier College.
Catholic Schools and other Faith Based schools have unique religious traditions that contributes to the education of children. Our schools have been led by a Principal or Headteacher of our faith until the implementation of OMRSS.
We are simply and humbly request that MOE consults the School Management on appointments and that the unique culture of the school be included as a criterion for merit when it comes to school head appointments.
The Faith Based schools were very happy that the Permanent Secretary of Education met with us on OMRSS. She assured us that the Ministry of Education will ensure close consultation with school managers and that the unique culture of Faith Based schools will be supported. I am attaching a paper that I present in this meeting on 9th January, 2019 and a summary of the meeting.
This week the Ministry of Education appointed two non-Catholic Acting principals to Xavier College and St Thomas High School. Brothers Francis and Sabu are doing a fine job in these schools. We humbly request that they remain principals.
With all due respect to your office, I request that Hon. Minister considers faith as a component of the OMRSS. The Faith Based school representative believe that having a school head that belongs to our faith will enhance the school.
I look forward to you support.
+Peter Loy Chong
Archbishop of Suva