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By Ana Tudrau

SUVA, Fiji (FijiSUN, May 28) - Education is becoming much more accessible for the poor, Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase said yesterday.

Qarase said the Government was gradually relieving parents, especially those who were poor, of as much of the cost of education as possible.

He said that parents had been freed from paying tuition fees in all classes, up to and including Form Five.

"These measures have directly benefited some 51,500 students. Under the old system, their parents would have had to pay a total of $7.7million (US$4.2 million) annually for tuition fees," he said.

He said that this made a great difference to the needy, low-income workers, farmers and villagers.

Mr Qarase said that forms six and seven had a special remission of fee scheme for children from needy households.

"This year we are scrapping $1.4 million (US$766,000) in fees that would normally have been charged for their tuition," he said.

"We estimate that some 17, 000 students and their families will, therefore, be better off."

He said that his government had freed children from external examination fees starting with the Intermediate Examination at Class Six to the Fiji Seventh Form Examination.

May 28, 2004


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