THE school dropout rate in Bua Province has prompted discussions among chiefs who say the situation warrants urgent intervention.
The chiefs have discussed how parents have become hesitant in disciplining their children for fear of violating legislation governing children's rights.
Secretary of the bose vanua of Bua, Tui Wainunu Ratu Orisi Baleitavea, said there were about 20 dropouts per year in each of the province's nine districts.
"It's a serious issue and is getting worse," Ratu Orisi said.
"While parents are doing all they can to support their children, peer pressure seems more like a trend for children in the village to drop out because their friends have also left school. "While parents are not happy and want to discipline their children, they fear that they might be held accountable by law because of the children's rights issues."
Despite government's initiative in providing educational incentives for children throughout the country, Ratu Orisi said they still could not understand why the dropout rate was high.
He said children's rights also contradicted the parents' role in sending their children to school.
"Some parents fear they might be liable if they force their children to go to school even if they don't want to," Ratu Orisi said.
Education Minister Filipe Bole said the ministry had worked to eliminate the dropout problem.
"That's why the government has provided bus fare and food vouchers and free textbooks to name a few to assist parents send their children to school," he said.
Save the Children Fiji CEO Chandra Shekhar said there was a need to identify the reasons for students dropping out.