23 Sep 2016

Fiji MP says education official was 'sacked' for talking to him

11:35 am on 23 September 2016

Fiji's shadow education minister says there's a culture of fear in the education ministry, and a high profile officer was recently sacked for talking to him.

Mikaele Leawere says he was photographed playing pool and sharing a drink with the Education Officer for the Eastern Division, Vilimoni Dranivesi, around two months ago.

He says shortly after Mr Dranivesi was sacked from his job.

He says this week's circular letter from the ministry ordering all teachers to seek written permission before they talk to parents and the public is symptomatic of a dysfunctional department.

"And we were just yarning around the pool table and having a bowl of grog, and somebody took a shot of us sitting together, looking at his phone, and then the next thing, the next morning, he got a kick from the minister of education, terminated."

Mikaele Leawere says the events show that the government's attitude is not to embrace democracy, and it's a concern in the lead up to the 2018 elections.

Fiji's teachers' union says the Education Ministry has now retracted its letter banning any unapproved speeches and interviews.

The letter, sent by permanent secretary Iowane Tiko, said all communications with parents, the media, and the community had to be approved after requests in writing with drafts were sent to the ministry.