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SUVA, Fiji Islands (November 23, 2001 – Radio Australia)---The Fiji government has justified its spending on education for indigenous Fijians, on the basis of a high level of emigration among Indo-Fijians.

Figures tabled in Parliament show that 84 percent of the nearly 8,000 people who left Fiji between 1987 and 2000 were Indo-Fijians.

Assistant Education Minister Joji Banuvue said most were in the category of professional, technical and related fields.

Mr. Banuvue said Fiji cannot continue to train and educate people in these fields only to lose them to Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Canada and other countries.

He said the government can't stop the brain drain. But he said it can invest in people who decided to remain in the country, through a US$ 2.7 million budgetary allocation for indigenous Fijian and Rotuman scholarships under the Affirmative Action Program.

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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