MORE FIJI CHILDREN DROPPING OUT OF SCHOOL

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (July 2, 1999 - PACNEWS)---A recent Fiji survey shows that more students are dropping out of school for a variety of reasons.

Save the Children’s Fund (SCF) recorded its findings in a book titled "Keeping Children in School," which was released in the Fiji capital, Suva, Thursday.

The book said more parental support is needed to stop young children from becoming school dropouts.

The yearlong research described in the book found that students stopped going to school primarily because of financial pressure, physical abuse and restricted access to senior classes.

In 1996, just over 6,400 students secondary school level students dropped out of school.

SCF administrator Irshad Ali said urgent steps must be taken to curb the increasing number of school dropouts and those involved in truancy during school hours.

In launching the book, Education Secretary Emitai Boladuadua said his Ministry would work with schools to impress on them the importance of following up on students who consistently are absent from school.

"If students don’t turn up, then teachers should make an effort to find out the reasons. They (teachers) must be prepared to go the extra mile. They should liase with parents and encourage students to come to school," Boladudua said.

The research also found that indigenous Fijian boys opted out of school at an early age because of lack of parental support, academic failure and financial pressure.

Presently, Fiji’s education system provides free education up to the year 10 level. The Labour coalition Government is considering making education completely free.

Also, the Ministry is considering scrapping all examination fees to enable children to complete 12 years of formal education.

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