20 Jul 2007

Fiji teacher training college may be forced to close

10:03 am on 20 July 2007

The future of a regional teacher training college operated in Fiji by the Seventh Day Adventist Church has been thrown into question following a Suva High Court ruling yesterday.

Fulton College in Tailevu about 50 kilometres from Suva has been training teachers for church schools since 1940.

The Fiji Times reports that an action brought by traditional landowners sought a court declaration that part of the land on which Fulton College is situated is native reserve and therefore cannot be eased to anyone unless it is de-reserved.

They took the matter to court when the Native Land Trust Board was in the process of issuing a new lease after the previous lease expired in 2005.

In his judgement, Justice Filimoni Jitoko noted that the Native Land Reserve Commissioner in the 1950s, the late Sir Ian Thompson, had ruled that 40-hectares of the 200 hectares used by the college should be returned to the landowners.

Justice Jitoko said the plaintiffs' land was declared native reserve in 1983 and the NLTB must act now to rectify the situation by consulting with the landowners and the Seventh Day Adventist Australian Conference Association Limited.