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SUVA, Fiji Islands (April 26, 2001 - The Fiji Times/PINA Nius Online)---President Ratu Josefa Iloilo said the Blueprint for Affirmative Action for Fijian Education is a new chapter in Fijian education.

Ratu Josefa launched the blueprint at Queen Victoria School before a crowd of 300 people.

The ceremony was also attended by Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase, Chief Justice Sir Timoci Tuivaga, Vice-President Ratu Jope Seniloli, ministers and other government officials.

Ratu Josefa said the international community should not misunderstand the document as being racist.

"For what we see here is not racist in intention, but a long overdue initiative to create a level playing field for the children of Fiji," Ratu Josefa said.

He said Fijian education is a very depressing problem.

The education plan comes in wake of efforts made by Fiji's interim administration after widespread indigenous Fijian unrest last year.

"The flagging performance of Fijian students and of Fijian schools generally, and the widening gap between the Fijian students and (their) peers are major problems," Ratu Josefa said.

He also called on parents to change their attitude towards their children's education.

"Parents must place the education of their children at the top of their priorities," he said.

Ratu Josefa said the blueprint will not solve all of Fiji’s education problems.

"Fijians must look inwards for the answers," he added.

The document also aims to ensure greater development in rural and remote areas.

"The new educational strategies proposed in the blueprint would be supported by simultaneous improvements in roads and shipping services, health services, etc.," he said.

"The development of village farming, rural marketing and the establishment of rural service centers should be part of the process."

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: 

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