By Bushra Bashith –
Back then at family gatherings people were confused when I told them I was studying at SAITM; they didn’t know such a thing existed. Now the conversations goes like “ohh thaaat private medical campus. Is it true there are underqualified students? Aren’t they the ones going on protests?”
Well, firstly it is not us wasting your money and causing your evening mayhem and secondly I’m sick of having to listen to all this bogus information and having to prove myself time and again! So let me share MY SAITM story:
I had my primary education at Methodist College Colombo but my parents had to migrate to Canada on professional grounds. Since they wanted the cultural ties retained, they decided to return to Sri Lanka after 3 years. I couldn’t go back to Methodist as they didn’t have English medium at the time, so I chose Lyceum International school, one of the leading international schools in Sri Lanka. With a lot of commitment and dedication, I passed the Cambridge Ordinary level examination with 5As* 2As and 1B, with a 100 for BIO and then A-levels with 4As in 2013. YES, it is super weird to be posting my results like this but people need to know that WE EARNED our place at SAITM! Not just me, ALL my friends at SAITM did too!
My parents and I had a well respected and known university in Pakistan in our minds ever since I decided I wanted to do medicine, they even offered me a scholarship; But with time I really didn’t want to go there. My parents may be professionals but we aren’t millionaires and me being their first child, I knew they wouldn’t be able to afford the horrendous fee some of these universities asked for; For those of you who aren’t aware, medical degrees are unbelievably expensive in the developed countries and they hardly give scholarships. On the other hand I’d have to learn a whole other language if I was to study in China or Russia etc. Whilst doing some research, I came across SAITM and how it was UGC approved and Mahinda Rajapaksha, who was the president at that time, had even given scholarships to 10 students who just missed the Z-score. My parents were worried but I too really didn’t want to go abroad and live alone when there was something like this in my own country, where I could work on my Sinhala and study diseases prevalent in my country! When asked around, even GMOA consultants recommended this place. So after applying, I had to face 2 interviews, one of which was with the UGC board. The fee was 7 million for 5 years, but I earned a scholarship after having sat for their scholarship exam, which made it a bit better on my parents. Yet only my parents and I know the trouble they go through, to save up that money each year while also providing the best for my brother.
Yes this is a very long story but that’s just the struggle of getting into SAITM. Then there was the struggle of surviving in med school! There are so many misconceptions about our syllabus that I have been personally questioned on:
1) NO WE ARE NOT TAUGHT BY RUSSIAN DOCTORS! WE ARE TAUGHT BY SRI LANKAN PROFESSORS AND CONSULTANTS WHO ALSO LECTURE/ OR USED TO LECTURE AT STATE UNIVERSITIES– im proud to say we have the best of the best, some well-known throughout SRI LANKA
2) WE WORK ON ACTUAL DEAD BODIES- We had 2 years practice on cadavers and yes now during our clinical training we first practice CPR, cannulation etc on dummies, in the skills lab and later on patients.
3) WE NEED 80% , SOMETIMES 100% ATTENDANCE TO SIT FOR EXAMS – We do not have the luxury of cutting classes as and when we wish and go on protests on the road and we will not because we value the money our parents spend on us
4) THE DEGREE ISNT GIVEN TO US ON A SILVER PLATE – there are credit exams and then the finals with MCQs , SEQs and vivas. (we even have negative marking on MCQs which makes it much harder, which has recently come to my notice, was not heard of in some universities) and at the 2nd MB (ANAT, PHYSIO, BIOCHEM AND HISTO) if we fail, we must sit for the repeat exam (for which there is a fee too) and if we fail again we are demoted and have to pay for that too, unlike our free education counter parts who can spend as long as they want to qualify.
5) WE CANNOT SIT FOR ACT16 AS WE ARE NOT FOREIGN GRADUATES- it is an exam to test your ability to treat Sri Lankan patients with diseases prevailing in Sri Lanka. so why do we have to sit for that when we study in Sri Lanka?
I am in my 4th year now, I thought this problem would be settled eventually but even after the court ruling people are still not letting us have what is rightfully ours.
For the readers who are confused- we are willing to sit for any common state exam but they will not let us! We may not get on the streets to voice ourselves but DO NOT be fooled by the false information given to you. If you have any doubts do feel free to ask us. Please do try to understand our situation.
For those against private MEDICAL universities, WHY ONLY MEDICINE? WHY ONLY SAITM? What about the thousands graduating from international schools?
Whilst you fight for your free education MY PARENTS work hard continuing to pay MY EDUCATION AND YOURS. I only hope that you realize the people you block from going about, are the very people who pay for your education. Free education, is it FREEDOM of education?!
#IstandwithSAITM #mySAITMstory #මගේSAITMකතාව