The Scratch’s weekly Brief is broken down into two sections. First, “The Need to Know” covers this week’s main story—one story, several paragraphs, and opinions separated at the end. The second section, “The Ought to Know,” covers other stories—each paragraph is a separate story entirely. Lastly, while our content is serious, our headings are not. We like to spice up our headings with a little personality. :)
School’s out for…ever?
The government of Fiji has begun legal proceedings against the Fijian Seventh-day Adventist Church in their High Court. Early in April, the Executive Committee of the Vatavonu Adventist High School (in Vanua Levu, Fiji) announced it would be closing the school because the Fiji Ministry of Education refused to appoint Adventist staff to the school.
You’re telling me free money has strings attached? Whaaat?
The Fiji government operates a universal free education system where it pays staff wages and funds schools. Because the Adventist school is so heavily subsidized, the Fiji government selects the principals and teachers through its Open Merit Recruitment Selection System. The system refuses to match appointees with the school’s religious orientation.
When you switch your profile from public to private...
A few days after the school announced it would be closing, the Executive Committee decided to keep it open. The school will be privatized to allow the appointing of Seventh-day Adventist principals and teachers. But, this comes with a problem: if the school is privatized, it will no longer be eligible for government subsidy, meaning the school’s attendance cost will increase.
You can’t break up with me, I said so
The Government opened legal proceedings on April 15 in order to block the school from closing and to keep them from having any say in the government’s staff appointments. The church is preparing itself for a lengthy defense as the case returns to court on May 13, 2019. If the Fijian government wins, it’s likely this would also block (or at least delay) the school’s attempt to privatize.
Word on the street is...
The Fiji constitution guarantees freedom of religion for individuals and religious organizations in Fiji. Some believe this will be enough to defend the school, but this seems to be a gray area. The government could argue that, because they are paying with government funds, they have the duty to prevent discrimination against other religious traditions in the appointment process by favoring certain backgrounds for certain positions or schools. Others argue that the school should be allowed to keep the Free Education Grant and have Seventh-day Adventist appointees under the freedom of religion.
Tonga conga line
On April 18, as a part of the 2019 Trans Pacific Union Mission (TPUM) Women’s Congress, 600 Seventh-day Adventist women from around the Pacific flooded the main street of Tonga’s capital, Nuku’alofa, in a parade headed toward the Royal Palace. The parade was led by the Tongan Police and was promoting the EndItNow campaign, a global Seventh-day Adventist campaign aimed at stopping violence against women. Queen Nanasipau’u allowed the parade to enter the palace grounds through the front gate—an entry point normally reserved for royalty. The Women’s Congress launched TPUM’s Year of the Woman, which aims to empower women to be leaders and evangelists. It also marks a turning point in the inclusion and celebration of women in the TPUM as the first time in its history anything like this has been dedicated to women.
All solutions STEM from Women
In partnership with Ophelia Barizo, Ph.D., the NAD piloted the Women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) Conference on April 19. It was held at Spencerville Adventist Academy and featured an all-female panel representing different government and private sector organizations. Its goal was to expose young women to career opportunities in STEM and provide parents the opportunity to show their children powerful, female role models.
Contributors: Juan Mora, Rachel Beaver, Ben Curet