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SUVA, Fiji Islands (March 26, 2001 - Fiji Sun/PINA Nius Online)---The Fiji Teachers Union’s National Executive Committee has expressed concern over the increase in drug usage in schools and a recent spate of assaults on teachers.

The concerns were raised during a committee meeting in Suva over the weekend.

General Secretary Agni Deo Singh said the union was appalled that some parents and guardians were taking the law into their own hands and assaulting teachers.

Mr. Singh said the union supported the Ministry of Education’s position that the rule of law must always be respected.

"There could be good reasons for complaints but parents should follow procedures while raising their concerns," he said.

"In that light, we have advised our own teachers to work within the rules, refrain from administering corporal punishment and institute better ways of dealing with problems in schools."

He added: "Serious concerns have been expressed regarding drug problems in schools, especially at lower levels."

Mr. Singh said the teachers' organization believed drug problems in schools were caused by economic factors and children were being used.

"It is important that we have professional counselors in the education system," he said.

"Right now, everything is left to the teachers. We need trained counselors in all secondary schools."

The meeting also discussed the Fiji Teachers' Confederation's reconciliation program, involving both the predominantly Indian Fiji Teachers Union and the mainly indigenous Fijian body, Fijian Teachers Association.

Mr. Singh said the program, which involves promoting peace and co-existence in troubled areas in Fiji, had been well received by the people.

However, he said more funding was needed to make a tangible impact in this area.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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