The fourteenth Summit meeting of the G-15 nations will
take place next Monday. The preliminary stage of the G-15
Conference which begins today (15) at the level of Secretaries
would be followed by the Sunday meeting at Ministerial level.
The G-15 was originally set up at the Ninth Conference of the
Non-Aligned Movement held in Belgrade in 1989. Currently it has
18 members though the name G-15 remains unchanged. It is
primarily a bloc of countries from Asia, Africa and Latin
America that shares a common interest in bringing about a change
in the world economic system, especially the world trading
Though much water has flowed under the bridge since then the
principal objectives of the G-15 remain the same. The present
Conference in Teheran would deal with economic cooperation among
its members, new avenues for cooperation and review
international developments since its last Conference.
Essentially a forum of South - South Cooperation the
importance of G-15 is highlighted by the fact that several newly
emerging powers are among its members. They are India, Brazil
Among the leaders attending this Summit are President Lula da
Silva of Brazil, President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, President
Ahamedinejad of Iran, President Bashar-al-Assad of Syria.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa will assume the chair of G-15 at
These countries have much potential for development. In fact,
they are key players in the international struggle of the
developing countries for a new economic order.
The Summit will forge consensus on the need for a change in
the global economic system, particularly the need for changing
the world trading system which is heavily biased against the
Of much interest will be the exploration of possibilities to
develop technological cooperation among its members.
Sri Lanka has a challenging task in taking over the
leadership of the G-15 at this juncture when the world is
engulfed in the deepest economic and financial crisis in the
past 100 years. Fortunately regional cooperation remains a means
for developing countries to avoid the adverse effects of the
crisis brought about by untrammeled greed of the financial
oligarchy in the global power houses - the US and Europe.
The advance of leading countries such as India, China,
Brazil, South Africa and Malaysia has already compelled the
Chairman of the World Bank to predict the end of the Third
World. Sri Lanka by taking over the G-15 at this juncture could
play a vital role in this unfolding transformation of the Third
The mess that is education
It has been revealed that nearly half (actually 49
percent) the candidates who sat the GCE (Ordinary Level)
Examination in December 2009 had failed. The number that had not
got a pass in a single subject is almost one-fifth (actually 19
These figures alone would demonstrate the mess to which
education has fallen into in this country. Apparently
everything, teaching, administration and learning, all have been
unsuccessful. A large part of the blame should be shared by the
administrators who did everything except administrating. This
includes workshops in star class hotels, foreign jaunts,
conducting the business of school examinations.
To make matters worse, the standard of education has fallen
to such low depths due to lack of physical infrastructure,
teacher shortages etc. that in nearly one fifth (to be exact 19
percent) of the schools the number of pupils had decreased to
below 300. While the ill-fed rural and even urban schools faced
closure, a handful of popular schools were bursting at the seams
due to overcrowding posing a direct threat to the standards of
teaching and management. The entire system of Grade One
admissions became such a mess that the Supreme Court had to
intervene to fix it.
The unenviable task of clearing this mess has been entrusted
to the new Education Minister, who is not to blame for it. One
could only sympathise with him. His predicament is not second to
that of the new Health Minister.
However, the new Minister has wisely decided to take all
stakeholders into confidence in sorting out the mess that is
education. He has rightly called for a consensus on education
We wish the Minister success.