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Church Wants School Heads To Be Members

The Methodist Church wants all their head teachers and principals to be members. The President of the Methodist Church of Fiji, Reverend Tevita Banivanua, made this statement in Suva yesterday.
18 Aug 2017 10:46
Church Wants School Heads To Be Members
Reverend Tevita Bainivanua

The Methodist Church wants all their head teachers and principals to be members.

The President of the Methodist Church of Fiji, Reverend Tevita Banivanua, made this statement in Suva yesterday.

He was attending the Methodist Education workshop at Dudley Methodist Church.

Reverend Banivanua said they had submitted their plan to the Ministry of Education.

He said the reason they wanted Methodist teachers to lead the school is for them to maintain the church teachings, standards and faith in all their schools.

There are 35 Methodist schools in Fiji, 17 primary, 16 secondary schools and two vocational schools.

Permanent Secretary for education, Iowane Tiko, says the Methodist Church have got to be joking.

He says there are darker sins hidden behind robes of some Church goers if this is a question of faith.

“If that is what the Methodist Church is planning they can always go private. We can discuss about principals but we do not want to go down that road.”

He said they want qualified educators to be in such positions, qualified civil servants who are educators.

Mr Tiko will be closing the Methodist workshop today where he is keen to discuss this issue with the Methodist Church.

Reverend Banivanua said: “We want to raise our children in the Methodist faith, and we want to protect what we value.”

For example the Catholic Schools in Fiji, many principals and head teachers are priests and nuns. He said that this was not new.

He clarified some had misunderstood the notion that teachers from Methodist denomination should head Methodist schools.

He said they were not ruling out teachers of other faiths from teaching in the Methodist schools.

He said their role was to maintain the knowledge of the Methodist faith for students who entered the Methodist schools.

He said if non-Methodists became the principals and head teacher in the Methodist Schools, they wouldn’t bother keeping the church values.

“We go for our Methodist values, and we want our schools to be a faith-based schools.”

He added they were the pioneers of education in Fiji, started by the missionaries.

“We want people to lead the school who can believe in it, implement policies and monitor it. If we don’t have our people there, then they couldn’t be bothered with what’s happening around the school.

“This is not about being un-fair to other denominations, it’s about keeping what we value.”

He said the Catholics in Fiji had their own sets of beliefs and they wouldn’t want a different denomination to go and lead their schools because of the different belief.

“We used to have our own people who teach in our school, but when Government and its new policy came in with people asking for transfer and promotion to some of our schools, the MOE and Government allowed that to happen because it was done by merit.

“Not because of one’s faith by itself, because your merit have been in that position over and above other applicants.”

He said that some non-Methodists who taught in the Methodist schools were doing a good job.

“We have Hindus who teach in our schools who are doing a good job, and we value them, because we just don’t have enough of our people.”

The Methodist Church was trying to prepare their people to perform in school.

“We don’t have our people for the sake of having them. It is for a purpose. We are sort of compromising that position because some of our people are not performing any more.”

Methodist church secretary for education, Waisake Ravatu, said they had seen the former Education minister Mahendra Reddy for a couple of times to talk about this issue.

The sentiment he expressed then was the MOE will consider their submission, and will make the final say.

“The first time we met him was 2015, and we met again twice last year, with regards to issues about our schools,” said Mr Ravatu.

“But we have requested the MOE but we will only get what is available. The fact is the decision made rest with the availability of teachers.”

He added that the Methodist Church will privatise their schools.

“We want to privatize our school, but it’s a long journey, and we need funding for that. This is part of our plan,” Mr Ravatu said.

At the moment the Methodist Church is trying to get a data base for all the Methodist teachers.

“We don’t know the number of Methodist teachers around the country, and we are trying to set up a Methodist teachers association so that we can know, how many are operating and how many are holding the different post,” said Mr Ravatu.

He says that many of the Methodist schools are facing difficulties, and they tend to report directly to the MOE.

He ended “We are in the process of setting up the association, and we are not sure as to what form it will take as we don’t want to take money away from the member.”

The workshop will end today.

Edited by Ranoba Baoa

Feedback:  lusiana.tuimaisala@fijisun.com.fj

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