Colombo Telegraph

My SAITM Story

By Shabnam Sambriya Wallin

Shabnam Sambriya Wallin

I am Shabnam Sambriya Wallin, a final year Medical student from the 5th batch (the 1st batch to be UGC approved) of the Faculty of Medicine at SAITM. I completed my secondary education at a leading International Girls’ School here in Colombo where I sat for my Edexcel London Ordinary and Advanced Levels.

The decision to go through a private education system was not something that I made but I’m very grateful to both my parents and teachers for opening up a world of opportunities to me. Yes, my primary and secondary education were not free but only my parents and I are aware of the struggle of paying for each term. Although I did quite well in the Commerce subjects I made the choice to go through the Science stream because my goal was to become a Gynecologist.

Despite being in the private education system I sat for the Local Ordinary levels in Grade 9 (without any tutoring or formal lessons in the local syllabus) where I chose 6 subjects and scored 4As and 2Cs. Following this I sat for my Edexcel Ordinary level with 7 subjects scoring 5 As, 1 B and 1 C.

For my Advanced Levels I did 4 subjects (Core Mathematics/Mechanics, Biology, Physics and Chemistry) where I got a fairly good result of 1 A, B and 2 Cs – Which without doubt qualify me to do MBBS in a foreign university.

The reason I’m being completely transparent with my results as well as the details of high school education is because I want to challenge the false propaganda that “SAITM takes in under-qualified students”.

We all dream. Some of them are achievable and some are not. One such dream of mine was to become a doctor. This was a choice that I made and NOT a career path that my parents picked out for me. This choice was driven by some traumatizing events that I went through in my early years. First it was the loss of my younger sister, Mushira who passed away with a congenital heart defect (“hole in the heart” was what my parents were told which I now know is the Fallot’s Tetralogy). Even though this happened during my childhood, I still remember the feeling of sheer helplessness that came with not being able to do anything while you lose a loved one before your very eyes. 
Then in 2010, loss struck again when I witnessed the death of my cousin who drowned. And again, I felt helpless even though I wanted to do something to save her.

A student like me who went through the private school system here in Sri Lanka cannot enter a State University since I’ve done my Edexcel Examinations. Nor can I afford to pursue a higher education abroad because of both the costs involved and because of my parents. This leaves students like me in a very tough position where we are forced to abandon our dreams of not just a higher education and a career here in Sri Lanka.

SAITM was my last and only resort – The only solution to an education system that has continued to sideline private school students who want to pursue an education in our birth country.
 Why do the State University students and the GMOA try to sweep us aside as though we don’t belong in this country? Why do they withhold our RIGHT to an education? Why do they make it seem like OUR CHOICE OF SERVING THIS COUNTRY a crime?

Studying medicine isn’t a bed of roses. Everybody knows that. We have been let down a numerous time by the majority who have misunderstood the two terms ‘Free Education’ and ‘Freedom of Education’! 
The blessing in disguise is that we are being taught by amazing consultants themselves. If we have mastered one thing so far, it sure is PATIENCE. Do I regret coming to SAITM……ABSOLUTELY NOT! We need more private universities like this so that all students who want to pursue their higher education can do so fearlessly in this country without having to flee abroad for good.


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