Fiji-Based Adventist School Reverses Controversial Closure Decision
15 April 2019 | After making national headlines with a controversial closure announcement, an Adventist high school in Fiji has reversed its decision and announced that it will remain open.
Leadership at Vatuvonu Adventist College will change, however. An Adventist principal, as well as a majority of Adventist teaching staff, will now be hired.
The Adventist denomination’s Fiji Mission had released a statement on April 10 claiming that government refusal to appoint an Adventist principal and Adventist teachers at Vatuvonu Adventist College led to the decision to close the high school on Vanua Levu, Fiji’s second largest island.
Before the statement was released, the closure announcement had led to considerable controversy as it made national news and generated discussion among political leaders.
According to an April 4 report from Fiji’s FBC News, denominational leaders in the country met with the staff and management of the school on that day to inform them of the upcoming closure. Teachers were instructed to leave school after the current school term ended.
At the time, FBC News reported that Adventist students at the institution would be transferred to Navesau Adventist College in Tailevu, a province on Viti Levu, Fiji’s largest island. Students that are not members of the church were reportedly required to find schooling on their own.
The president of the denomination’s Fiji Mission, Pastor Luke Narabe, confirmed the closure but gave no further details to FBC News for the April 4 report.
On April 11, FBC News also reported that there were allegations of misuse of funds at Vatuvonu Adventist College, which some parents of students claimed had led to a shortage of food. Former students, church members and the local community were reportedly helping to feed 48 boarding students after the boarding school allegedly ran out of food three weeks before FBC reported on the situation. The news outlet claimed that the denomination refused to comment on the misuse of funds allegations.
Vatuvonu Adventist College was originally closed in 1984 but was then re-opened by the government in 2011. It enrolls 178 students, 48 of which are boarders.
According to the denomination’s Office of Archives, Statistics and Research, the Adventist Church in Fiji had 26,558 members and 166 churches as of June 30, 2018.