13 Oct 2003

Fiji fears school dropouts because of drought

3:56 pm on 13 October 2003

Fiji is expected to face a large number of dropouts from school next year as a result of the drought being experienced now.

The Fiji Times says the president of the Fiji Teachers Union, Balram, has called on the government to be ready with assistance to deal with the problem.

Mr Balram, who is the principal of Tavua College, with more than 1-thousand students, says more than 80 of them come from cane farming areas and pay substantial amounts on bus fares.

He says cane production could decrease by more than 60 percent for next year which would mean less income for farmers, no work for farm labourers and lay-offs for casual sugar millworkers.

Mr Balram says there are more than 40-thousand primary and secondary school students in drought affected areas, most of whom are solely dependent on cane farming incomes.

The president of the local branch of Soroptimist International, Yasmeem Khan, says the government should consider scrapping fees for students affected by the drought and strike a deal with bus companies to waive fares.