Saturday, 15 November 2003  
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15th conference of Education Ministers of Commonwealth countries

Minister of Human Resource Development Education and Cultural Affairs Dr. Karunasena Kodituwakku lead a team of officials from the Education Ministry to the 15th Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers held at Edinburgh, Scotland United Kingdom from October 27-30.

The unique feature was the inclusion in these delegation two students as well from Sri Lankan to attend the Youth Summit, which was held parallely, and deliberations of which were fed directly to the main Conference at which Education Ministers of over 44 Commonwealth Countries participated in person with their delegations.

The main theme of the Conference was - Closing Gap; Access, inclusion and Achievement. Sri Lanka was distinctly honoured when Dr. Karunasena Kodituwakku was invited to chairing one of the very significant session of the Conference on the sub-theme 'Education in Difficult Circumstances'.

At this session Dr. Kodituwakku had the opportunity of prevailing on the Member Countries to consider concessionary rates of tuition fees being levied on the students seeking learning placements in the Universities in Countries such as the UK and Australia.

The reasoning for this proposal was the existence of a wide disparity in the per annum fees charged as of now: it was noted that local students was charged by the UK universities fees raging from UK pounds 1500-2000 and students from EU countries from UK 2500 to 3000 whilst the students of the developing countries were being charged fees in a range of UK pounds 5000 to 8000.

More or less similar was the disparity in the fees levied by Australian Universities where more than 6000 Sri Lankan students also study. Dr. Kodituwakku also called for a reduction of the Visa Fees for students which is exorbitant and as high as Rs. 20,000 to the UK.

These proposals were well received for deliberations by the member countries. Whilst attending this conference the Minister also had the opportunity of having meetings with Dr. Clerk, Minister of Education of the UK, Professor Manohar Joshi-Minister of Education, India and several others.

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