PM: Teaching of Faith Begins At Home

The Prime Minister breaks his silence on the ongoing debate. The Ministry of Education that insists appointments are merit-based against faith-based organisations saying their schools should be headed by people of their own faith
30 Jan 2019 11:14
PM: Teaching of Faith Begins At Home
Prime Minister Hon. Voreqe Bainimarama with students of Namau Public School. PHOTO: DEPTFO News


The posting of a school head to a faith-based institution has nothing to do with religious teachings, but it is about the academic welfare and upbringing  of our children whose education must not be affected.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama made these comments as he broke his silence on the ongoing debate between the Ministry of Education that insists that appointments are merit-based against faith-based organisations, mainly the Roman Catholic Church of Fiji, which wants members of the church to head its schools.

The Prime Minister said the teaching of faith should always begin in our very own homes where the onus should be on parents to guide children on life’s values.

He said it was not the job of teachers in an institution to make children understand their faith better but they were there to help students learn academically for a brighter future.

“This issue of posting teachers has nothing to do with the church. It is not about faith but about our children. The ongoing issue about the faith-based schools should not affect our children’s education.”

Mr Bainimarama said government’s main concern was to ensure that students got the best education.

“My main concern is what will be taught to students in those schools. I’m not concerned about religious teachings because if this is prioritised then what about the other subjects that students need to also learn,” he said.

“Too much on (Church) teachings and less on the subjects to make them better equipped for the future, especially iTaukei to excel and become engineers, accountants and pilots.

The PM also shared his education pathway from primary school at Lautoka Fijian to Draiba Primary School, then to Ratu Kadavulevu School before Marist Brothers High School.

“It is about our children and nothing to do with the Church. I did attend Marist the system we went through, a brother was the principal. There were prayers in the morning and other sessions during the day and it is the same today.”

Mr Bainimarama said he would not change his mind in prioritising children’s education.

“Some of these changes are part of the reforms in 2009 and again stressed in 2017, it’s for the betterment of Fijian children academically. We have to be careful on this issue. It is simple to understand that the Government is stressing that our children are given the best education they can have.

In reminding  village elders to focus on their children’s education he said “our job is to bring them up in the respective faith and they should get the best in education”.

Mr Bainimarama said he has had talks with leaders of  Seventh Day Adventist church, Roman Catholics of Fiji and the Methodist Church of Fiji on this issue two years ago.

Later SDA went ahead to privatised its school.

The Catholic church had requested that faith be an element of Government’s Open Merit Recruitment Selection System (OMRSS).  Government said if churches want to choose their principals then they have to pay their salaries.

Edited by Percy Kean



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