FOR years, the Vunibola family had to struggle at the start of the new school year.
This year though, is different because the family now only has to spend money on school books and uniforms.
Mum Sera Vunibola said the government's free education grant was a major relief for her family, especially as she looked forward to sending her eldest daughter to continue her tertiary education.
Yesterday, Mrs Vunibola along with her husband Timoci and two children Eci and Tomasi were doing their back to school shopping at the Post Shop in Suva.
"Before we didn't get to spend Christmas properly because we were always thinking about our children's school fees," Mrs Vunibola said.
"But this festive season has been great because we have money to spend with our families while we kept aside money for school accessories.
"We can now buy all the items we never used to buy before because we don't have to pay for school fees."
Another parent Taina Duganei said the start of the 2014 school year would be different for her family because the focus would be on books and uniforms alone.
She said a heavy burden had been lifted off her now that she only had focus on books alone.
Her elder daughter Sera Tawai will start Form Three in Levuka and younger daughter Doris Talei goes to Class Four.
And she's expressed hope the free education grant continues because it has been of great help to parents.