2 Feb 2005

Fiji's education minister questions accuracy of NGO report

8:23 pm on 2 February 2005

Fiji's education minister, Ro Teimumu Kepa, has questioned the accuracy of a report from the Save the Children Fund highlighting the plight of children in drought affected areas in Tavua and Rakiraki.

The report released this week said up to 8-thouand children are going to school hungry, are without text and exercise books, and could drop out.

Ro Teimumu has told Radio Legend that the issue of children going to school without lunch is NOT new and has been seen in past years.

Ro Teimumu says some parents can afford to provide lunch and she wonders children are going to school without food.

She says claims of children dropping out of school may not be true as school year has just started.

But Save the Children Fund has expressed concern at the education minister's response.

The Fund's programme manager, Margaret Logavatu, says the report is not intended to highlight the ministry's failure but to help it identify children in severely drought affected areas

Ms Logavatu says parents in Rakiraki and Tavua are finding it difficult to provide lunches for their children because they grow most of their own food which has been severely affected by the drought.