The Ugly Side Of Discrimination
Issue No: 298 18 December 2000
Anti-Indian racial discrimination adversely affects the indigenous Fijians, recent surveys have revealed.
Over the years, successive government and regimes have allocated millions of dollars of funds exclusively for indigenous Fijian education through the Fijian Affairs Board. The funds are to be used for the advancement of ethnic Fijian education through grants and other forms of financial assistance to indigenous Fijian schools. Schools managed by non-indigenous Fijians do not get any allocation.
The problem, however, is that the schools are more and more racially integrated now. Many ethnic Indian managed schools have a large proportion of students who are ethnic Fijians.
The Fiji Teachers Union gave examples of such schools in today's Fiji Sun. It stated that Suva Sangam College has 80% of its students who are ethnic Fijians; Pandit Shreedhar College has 95% of its students who are indigenous Fijians. The same is the case for the Arya Samaj run school Vishnu Deo Primary School. 45% of all students at Saraswaati College are also ethnic Fijians.
In fact, there is not a single ethnic Indian managed school in Fiji which does not have any ethnic Fijian student. The proportion of ethnic Fijians students in most ethnic Indian managed primary schools is rising. Interestingly, an increasing number of indigenous Fijian parents now prefer to send their children to ethnic Indian run schools because of greater discipline and competition in such schools.
But none of these schools qualify for assistance from the Fijian Affairs Board. The Qarase regime has increased financial allocation to the FAB from $4.7m to $5m.
Not a cent of the $5m will be used to benefit existing indigenous Fijian students in ethnic Indian run schools.
The effect of the regime's discrimination policy is now apparent.
While any group in power can draw up discriminatory policies, the actual effect of discrimination often is counter to the intended effect. Unfortunately, the Qarase regime has not learnt this lesson.
The People's Coalition Government had planned to merge all the scholarships under one management.
END 18 Dec 2000