16 Jun 2004

Fiji educaton ministry accused of racism

6:10 am on 16 June 2004

Fiji's education ministry is facing allegations that it is proposing the most racially discriminatory policies that the Qarase government can ever put in place.

Fiji TV says this follows revelations that the government will provide free education to all indigenous Fijian students in Form 7 from next year, but NOT to those of any other race.

The proposal is part of the SDL government's blueprint for affirmative action in indigenous education.

The general secretary of the Fiji Teachers Union, Agni Deo Singh, says the policy is one of extremes where two students sitting side by side in the same classroom will be treated differently on the grounds of race.

Mr Singh says the policy will only widen the divide between the communities in Fiji at a time when efforts are under way to reconcile and bring people together.

He says the Fiji Teachers Union has always maintained that there's not only a need to uplift indigenous education, but of all those who need such assistance.

The union is writing to the Prime Minister's Office on the issue.