20 Oct 2015

School attendance rates well down in Vanuatu

6:28 pm on 20 October 2015

School attendance is well down in drought and cyclone hit parts of Vanuatu raising fears of an increase in drop out rates down the line.

A Ministry of Education assessment shows some schools in all provinces have been affected by water shortages and a lack of food and cash.

Karen Allen of the UN children's agency UNICEF says children in the affected areas will have great difficulty in passing their end of year exams.

She says UNICEF is receiving reports that families in hard-hit areas like Tanna are sending their children away to other islands where there is access to food and water.

"If I were a parent that's what I would do but it raises other risks for children such as protection risks, separation from family, psychosocial risks and also it's not clear when they go to stay with friends or family that they'll be able to fit into the school there."

Ms Allen says the government has increased the amount of money to school management committees so they can make quick investments around water and food.