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All teachers appointmented on merit

June 4, 2021 3:12 am

The Court of Appeal has ruled that the Permanent Secretary for Education has the lawful right to appoint any teacher or head of school or in any acting position.

The landmark judgement was made yesterday on the appeal filed by the State against the decision of the High Court with respect to the appointment of the Head of School at Vatuvonu Seventh Day Adventist College College.

The Court of Appeal has wholly set aside the decision of the High Court which had ruled that the appointment of State-funded teachers in any school established by a faith-based organisation must be approved by the faith-based organisation.

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The Court of Appeal discussed the principles, values and spirit of the 2013 Constitution, and held that the 2013 Constitution boldly “cultivates a direction towards commonality and equality in pluralism”, and interpreted the 2013 Constitution as the instrument to connect different cultural and religious sectors which co-exist in Fiji, without undervaluing the uniqueness of each.

In overturning the decision of the High Court, the Court of Appeal held as follows:
Every religious community which has established a school has the right to appoint at their own expense and without any expense to the State, their own employees as teachers to teach at their schools;

The Permanent Secretary for Education or any public officer must not prefer or advance any religion by any means, including in the appointment of public servants as teachers or in the grant of public funds (including education grant) to any school. No public officer who is sent to teach in schools can be required to promote or advance any religion or religious belief at any such school;

If the State provides teachers to any school, then it must select and appoint those teachers on merit only and without regard to any religion or religious belief;

Any religious community which receives assistance from the State in the form of teachers cannot interfere in the appointment of such teachers, nor can the religious community refuse to accept the appointment of teachers on the ground of religion or religious belief or any other prohibited ground of discrimination;

Although any religious community has the right to close any school established by them, this right is subject to regulatory sanction of the Permanent Secretary for Education to ensure that the right to education is not undermined and that disruption to the education of students is minimised.

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