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SUVA, Fiji Islands (April 23, 2002 - The Fiji Times/PINA Nius Online)---Fiji's Education Ministry budget for 2002 has been increased to F$ 217 million (US$ 96,521,600), according to Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase.

This is believed to be the highest funding ever given for education.

Mr. Qarase said it represented an increase of $39 million (US$ 17,347,200) over last year's budget allocation and was the largest budget increase for any government sector.

Speaking at the launch of the Global Action Week-Education for All by 2015 project, Mr. Qarase said a collective effort would see educational progress in the country.

"The government, the school-owning authority, the parents, education administrators, teachers and the community at large all have a role to play,'' he said.

Mr. Qarase said the poor state of mainly indigenous Fijian schools in rural areas and outer islands posed a challenge for the government.

"The run-down condition of these schools is directly reflected in their poor performance in examinations, contributing to the high dropout rate."

For additional reports from the Fiji Times, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Fiji Times.

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