FTU’s application in court for a stay on the processing of posts under the MQR to be called on 3rd March

FTU’s application in court for a stay on the processing of posts under the MQR to be called on 3rd March

By Vijay Narayan , Shanil Singh
Saturday 12/02/2022
FTU General Secretary Agni Deo Singh [image: file]

The application filed by the Fiji Teachers Union to the Employment Court to grant a stay on the processing of posts under the Minimum Qualification Requirement till court proceedings are concluded and a ruling is delivered, will be called on 3rd March.

The case was filed on 17th January this year.

FTU General Secretary Agni Deo Singh says they believe the decision is unfair, unjustified and discriminatory and shows total disregard of their own policies.

Singh says they have submitted that any change to the existing Minimum Qualification Requirement that had been deemed suitable all these years must remain and no change was made without consultation with the teacher unions.

Minister for Education, Premila Kumar had revealed in Parliament this week that out of the 1,424 applications for positions of Heads of Schools in the country, only 408 applicants met the Minimum Qualification Requirements and sat for the job test at the FNU computer labs in the Central, Western and Northern Divisions in December last year.

Kumar also confirmed that out of the 408 applicants who did the job test, only 124 candidates met the benchmark so interviews will only be conducted for these 124 candidates.

However Singh says the Ministry must determine merit through a combination of factors and not only Postgraduate qualification.

Singh says mediocrity is actually putting paper qualification with zero experience in relevant leadership positions ahead of proven performance for several years.

He says the FTU is of the firm belief that Minister Kumar and her Permanent Secretary are on a destructive path towards speeding up the already downward spiraling quality of education.

He says they have a special loan scheme in place through the FTU Credit Union whereby members can borrow to pursue further studies and upgrade their qualification and while the Union has this policy intact, it is saddening to take note that the Ministry has abandoned the in-service training program which teachers made use of to upgrade their qualification.

Singh adds that a third year teacher has been selected ahead of a principal with over 10 years of outstanding service and performance in a leadership role.

Kumar had also said in Parliament that the Job Evaluation Exercise for the Ministry of Education’s teaching positions were carried out as part of the government’s evaluation exercise where teaching positions were evaluated and respective salary bands were assigned.

She says the Job Evaluation Exercise was designed to ensure the teachers were paid in accordance with the work that they do in schools.

Kumar says all positions during this period were evaluated and a band was assigned to a post.

The Education Minister says Heads of Schools transitioned to respective bands J, K and L based on the size of schools.

She also says following the Job Evaluation Exercise, the revised Minimum Qualification Requirements were created, and the qualification requirement for the small, medium and large schools were same except the experience that was clearly defined.

For small schools, 5 years teaching experience and 3 years experience in educational leadership is required, for medium schools, 7 years teaching experience and at least 5 years educational leadership is required while for large schools 10 years teaching experience and at least 5 years educational leadership experience is required.

We had sent further questions to the Ministry of Education regarding the issues raised by Singh. They have not responded.

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