26 Jan 2005

Fiji teachers union threatens legal action over fee free education for indigenous Fijians

2:32 pm on 26 January 2005

The Fiji Teachers Union is threatening to take legal action against the government over its decision to provide fee free education to indigenous Fijian students only.

The union's general secretary, Agni Deo Singh, says they have complained to the Human Rights Commission but it has failed to take any action for the past five months.

Mr Singh says a High Court challenge is the only action left because the policy is racism of the worst sort.

He says from this year all indigenous students entering Form 7 will know that they will not have to pay fees even if they are the children of cabinet ministers and senior executives earning more than 100-thousand dollars a year.

Mr Singh says they will be sitting right next to students of other races from families who live well below the poverty line.

But the prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, has defended the policy saying affirmative action for indigenous Fijian students in Form 7 is a genuine attempt to address the disadvantages they face.