2 Feb 2005

Former Fiji Education Minister accuses Qarase government of race agenda in schools

10:32 am on 2 February 2005

The Fiji government is being accused of laying the foundations for a policy of apartheid in education.

The Fiji Labour Party says the government is doing this by providing exclusive grants to Fijian schools so that indigenous students who want to benefit from affirmative action programmes are forced to attend Fijian schools.

The allegation has been made by senior Labour MP and the education minister in the deposed Chaudhry government, Pratap Chand.

Mr Chand says it is common knowledge that many indigenous parents prefer to send their children to non-Fijian schools because they are committed to educating their children in multi-racial schools.

But, he says, the education ministry had announced last year that fee-free Form 7 education for indigenous students would be only for those who attend Fijian schools.

Mr Chand says this is the cornerstone of the SDL government's discriminatory policy which discriminates not only against Indian students, but also against indigenous students who attend non-Fijian schools.

He says this policy is designed to polarise the education system based on race.