13 Feb 2003

Fiji government decision not to renew contracts of temporary teachers may close schools

9:28 am on 13 February 2003

Thousands of school students in Fiji may be forced to go home and classrooms closed after the government's decision not to renew the contracts of more than 200 temporary civil servant teachers.

The decision is part of the government's plan to reduce the cost of the public service.

The Daily Post reports that the new education secretary, Alumita Taganesia, has issued instructions that nobody should be allowed to teach unless approved by her.

Temporary service teachers comprise twenty to thirty per cent of staff in some committee-run schools and principals are quoted as saying they will have no option but to send students home and close some classes.

One principal says some temporary service teachers have been part of the education system for up to six years and it will be demoralising and dangerous to have hundreds of them jobless.

The general secretary of the Fiji Teachers Union, Agbni Deo Singh, says the decision not to renew their contracts is unprecedented as there had been automatic renewals in the past.

Mr Singh says some of these teachers were taken in by school managements at the beginning of the year but they have not been paid by the education ministry.