More than 5 percent of kids from Fiji's 400 schools are continuously absent.
Education Minister Mahendra Reddy has told parliament at least 10,000 students stay away from school and absenteeism has become a major issue.
The Fiji Times reports Dr Reddy says he did not know why this happened when education was free.
The minister says a recent survey found that children were establishing patterns of behaviour affecting their overall performance.
Dr Reddy says some children are failing to attend school regularly and when they do they are engaging in destructive behaviour like bullying, consumption of alcohol, kava, tobacco and other drugs.
The minister cites a National Substance Abuse Advisory report which found that a total of 1796 offences were committed by students last year.
Dr Reddy says Fiji cannot succeed unless children and parents take ownership of their education.