A MAJOR educational crisis is developing on Rabi Island, with revelations that more than 240 Banaban students dropped out of school over the past two years because of financial problems.
That figure amounts to more than a quarter of the total number of children currently enrolled in school on Rabi island this year (857).
The Banaban Child Welfare says the latest survey conducted revealed that 240 students dropped out of school between the years 2008 to 2009.
Welfare officer Radhika Teaoka said the major cause of school dropouts was the low income earned by their parents on the island.
"There is a great need for assistance towards our parents as they lack good markets to sell their dalo, yaqona and seafood," she said.
"This has resulted in families earning very low income because of limited marketing opportunities, which has affected payment of school fees for their children."
There are three primary schools and one secondary school on Rabi with a total roll of 857 students.
Ms Teaoka said the students who dropped out of school were mostly from the secondary school.
"Boys who drop out of school stay home and start their own farms while girls help their mothers at home with the house chores," Ms Teaoka said.
"And when that happens, the future dreams of these students are tarnished."
Ms Teaoka made the comments during the launch of the "World of Difference" program funded with the help of the Vodafone ATH Fiji Foundation.
She said the foundation had given Banabans funding to help out in that area.
"We will put up programs of skills and training for women so they can use the natural resources around them and earn extra money to help pay up fees," Ms Teaoka said.
She said the assistance from Vodafone ATH Fiji Foundation would help put out training programs for villagers.
The plan is for training to highlight budgeting issues aimed at assisting parents with prioritising educational expenses.