1 Feb 2005

Fiji primary school manager predicts further school occupations by landowners

2:05 pm on 1 February 2005

The manager of a Fiji primary school being occupied by indigenous landowners predicts other schools will suffer the same fate unless the government pays up.

A group of up to 70 landowners disrupted classes at the Nawaicoba Primary School in rural Nadi yesterday, demanding the government pay them 33-thousand U.S. dollars in order for them to sign the renewal of the school lease.

The school's manager, Bala Dass, says he was forced to send the 280 pupils home because they were playing loud music, drinking kava and singing.

Mr Dass says there will be further occupations unless the Ministry of Education resolves the issue.

"There are many other schools whose premiums have not been paid and after this incident I am quite sure landowners will start jumping through the compounds, taking over the schools and they will ask government to pay the money. So this is only the start of the problem now."

One of the landowner's spokesman, Atunaisa Nati, says that they regret upsetting the children but will not move until the government meets their demands.