While Fiji has long had a policy of universal access to primary school, that goal is still not being achieved for the poorest children, the Poverty in Fiji report has revealed.
The report compiled by the Fiji Bureau of Statistics report shows that some 5 to 6 percent or rural children were not at school during 2008 to 2009.
"However, the situation may have changed since then because of the recent introduction of subsidised bus-fare for school children but it has to be confirmed," the report stated.
The report suggested the government needs to equalise the funding for rural students.
“Government would need to have a bias of more than $100 per student in favour of rural students.”
However, in a secondary level, the impact on the poor becomes more pronounced both from the point of access and private household expenditure.
The report surprisingly indicates the very large proportions of the age group 14 to 18 were not at school in 2009.
“The average was for rural is 26 percent, twice that of the urban average of 13 percent.”
It was recorded that they have dropped out from various reasons.
“The major cause is likely to have been failing various examinations rather than financial reasons.”
"Where the primary factors are financial hardships, then clearly there has to be more provisions made by government budgets to ensure that schools are not pressured to refuse students who are not able to pay fees."
“Where the factors are failure to pass the required examinations, then the causes of higher failure rates amongst the poorest children need to be identified and examined.”
The report goes on to suggest that it is useful to also examine the impact of education on poverty.
By Ropate Valemei