15 Jan 2011

Fiji government bans sect that continues to refuse to send children to school

Fiji Broadcasting Corporation - November 8, 2010

State bans 'Lotu Kadrala' church

by Apisalome Coka

Government has banned a religious group as it was unregistered and did not allow children to attend school.

Ra Provincial Administrator Joji Satakala told FBC NEWS the Lotu Kadrala sect in Ra was disbanded before the start of the third school term in September this year.

Satakala says the Lotu Kadrala was established more than 20 years ago when Ratu Sir Penaia Ganilau was still Governor General.

He says Ratu Penaia stopped the sect from carrying out church services but did not fully disband it.

Satakala says his Excellency the President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau raised concerns on the Lotu Kadrala which resulted in the disbanding of the group.

“In August we attended the Vatukacevaceva religious group. We had a meeting that evening and as the government rep in the province of RA I had to disband the religious group as it was unregistered and because of their beliefs. They do not send their children to school which is against the current government policy and that is why we disbanded the religious institution and have asked parents to release their children to attend school.”

Satakala says anyone continuing the activities of the group will be arrested and charged.

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Fiji Times - August 3, 2008

Social welfare to help sect children

Blind faith ... Lotu Kadrala followers Narai Tuiveikau and his son Semesa Nairogo, 5, Emori Tubavivi and Piteni Vasulala want to be left alone to pursue the lives they want for their children.

THE Social Welfare Department says it is making every effort to enroll children who do not go to school because of their parents' faith.

At the same time, the department will ensure the children are not inflicted any other form of abuse.

Senior social welfare officer Inoke Loganimoce said they would only intervene if there was sufficient evidence of cruelty and neglect on children.

Mr Loganimoce said they were working closely with their officer on the ground to ensure the children at Loqa and Vatukacevaceva in Ra were safe.

Offsprings of followers of the Vunau ni Loloma sect, also known as Lotu Kadrala, stay home and help their parents farm the land.

Mr Loganimoce said the Education Act stressed compulsory education for all children from Class One to Form Four.

"This is also related to the Convention on the Rights of Children under Article 28 and 29," he said.

The Ministry of Education said it could not do anything to force the parents to send their children to school.

Interim Education Minister Filipe Bole said education was not compulsory and there was no law to compel parents to send their children to school.

He once led a team to try to convince elders at the settlement to ensure the children attended school.

"We tried to get them to send the children to school but there is no law that forces the parents to ensure their children get an education," he said. "That settlement has been there a long time and we can only appeal to them to send their children to school. Other than that, there is nothing we can do."

Fijian Teachers Association president Tevita Koroi said that education was not compulsory.

He said he was aware that some communities in Fiji preferred not to send their children to school but taught them subsistence farming and business.

"The law does not provide any sort of provision for those not sending their children to school.

"Education is not compulsory but is highly recommended for all children."

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