OVER 1000 students enrolled in 22 Arya Pratinidhi Sabha of Fiji schools will not be allowed to attend their final school term, scheduled to begin today.
The worrying statistic follows a directive from the organisation to disallow students who have not paid their outstanding levies to attend term three.
In response to this decision, the Education Ministry said although children should not be sent home, parents have to be responsible for the sake of their children.
"The ministry's stand is that children are not to be sent home but parents have a responsibility," said the ministry's permanent secretary Dr Brij Lal.
"We are saying that children should be allowed into the school but at the same time the responsibility is on the parents. The parents should pay any levy that they owe to the school. Please students come to school, but if the parents have not paid, take the parents to task."
In defending their directive, the Sabha said they regretted having to impose a decision which stopped students from attending school.
"To overcome this problem the Sabha, with the approval of the Ministry of Education, began the process of term enrolments at all its schools from 2013, whereby students were allowed to continue whilst the parents were allowed to give a signed undertaking to pay dues within a certain time," explained the Sabha's media officer Kamlesh Arya.
"Hundreds of parents at the 22 Sabha schools gave such undertakings beginning from term one and have not fulfilled the responsibilities towards the school needs of their children," Mr Arya said yesterday.
Mr Arya also revealed that the total amount of unpaid dues to the 22 Sabha schools amounted to $180,000 for terms one and two this year. He reported that last year the Sabha was forced to write off $176,837 in unpaid school levies.
Dr Lal suggested parents engage more with the schools and make arrangements to meet their needs and those of the schools.
"Where they have difficulties, they need to make some arrangements, either it be monthly payments or something so that their children will not be affected," Dr Lal advised.
"Now that we have come to the third term of school, I'm urging parents that have not paid their dues to make some arrangements. I'm asking people to be more responsible. They are children, they should be kept in the school and parents should play their part. That is the most important thing."