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High Court intervenes in Vatuvonu saga

April 16, 2019 4:12 pm

The High Court has ordered the Seventh Day Adventist Church to hand over management of Vatuvonu Adventist College to the Education Ministry.

In a statement released this hour, Minister for Education Rosy Akbar stated, the order from the High Court also prevents the Trustees of the school from shutting down the College without the sanction of the Permanent Secretary for Education.

Yesterday, the SDA Church announced that the school would remain open but will be operating as a private school from Term 2.

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Akbar says the College trustee’s decision to charge a fee, financially burdening communities that once received the same education and services for free, is not within their legal authority.

The College is the only school in the area for many students to conveniently attend, and about 80 per cent of the students are non-Adventists.

Akbar says Fijian taxpayers have funded $1.84 million in fees for students, meals, salaries for teachers, textbooks, capital works and other essential educational expenditures from 2014 to 2019.

Akbar also confirms that a number of allegations of mismanagement and abuse of funds against the College trustees or their agents have been raised.

These allegations are currently under investigation.

The High Court ruling also restricts the College trustees from preventing students from attending school at the start of Term 2 or from refusing the appointment of teachers and school heads on the basis of merit.

It also ensures that education will remain free at Vatuvonu and students will not pay fees this week, nor will they pay fees when they return to school at the start of Term Two.

 

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