8 Feb 2005

Affirmative action for survival of Fijians - minister

7:02 am on 8 February 2005

Fiji's education minister says the SDL government's affirmative action policies in education for indigenous Fijian students are essential for the survival of the race.

The Labour Party has criticised the policies as educational apartheid.

But, Radio Fiji quotes Ro Teimumu Kepa as saying that education in Indian or multi-racial schools can't guarantee the preservation of Fijian culture, and the practice and teaching of Christian values and principles.

Ro Teimumu says the indigenous people should be allowed to maintain and keep what is rightfully theirs, and she says that's why the development of Fijian schools is very important.

She says they should be centres of excellence not only for education but also to preserve their culture, tradition, language and faith.

Ro Teimumu says affirmative action is a world-wide concept, and in Fiji studies have shown that indigenous children are the most disadvantaged.

She says segregation can only exist in situations where schools decide to have policies which prohibit the enrolment of children owing to their race, religion or other related factors.

The education minister says if schools decide to follow that direction, then they would be de-registered as aided schools, and re-registered as private schools.