19 October, 2017

My SAITM Story

By Vinu Grero

Vinu Grero

A few days back I went for a leaflet campaign and one question asked by the people was if the students at SAITM are qualified to do a medical degree. A lot of SAITM students are speaking up and this is what I have to say #mysaitmstory

I am a 5th year medical student at SAITM and a past pupil from Lyceum International School Nugegoda.

Like most, I too had a dream of becoming a doctor.

I completed my A/Ls following the Cambridge syllabus and achieved A* and A grades of Chemistry, Biology and Physics.

The Sri Lankan government University has no place for students who pass out from school completing their studies under the London syllabus. So these students need to obtain their tertiary education from a private university. Luckily in Sri Lanka there are several private universities providing degrees in engineering, business management, IT and so on. But SAITM is the only university giving the opportunity for students to do medicine after following the London syllabus (and as well as students who were not fortunate enough to get into the state universities).

With the results I obtained for A/Ls I looked for several universities abroad and I did have the opportunity to get in to some of the best to do medicine but unfortunately my parents were reluctant to send me for several reasons and I was just 16 years old at this time.

So I decided to continue my studies here in mother Lanka. I applied to SAITM which has UGC approval therefore was legally entitled for SLMC registration. To enter I had to undergo two interviews, one which was held by SAITM and the other by the UGC. The total fee for my education was 6.2 million (not 12 million).

Here at SAITM, we are taught by some of the best doctors, consultants and professors in the country. Some who have taught in state universities for many years. Coming this far was not easy for us. We had to work hard through many exams just as in any medical college. Our exams are conducted by SAITM but we have external examiners from state universities at our examination and if any student was not up to the standard they would be failed just like in any university. So just cause we pay for our education, it doesn’t come easy. We need to earn it!

In the past, our students have been denied to do their clinical training at government hospitals which had been offered to SAITM. Therefore SAITM has made a path for us to obtain our clinicals from our very own hospital and from certain private hospitals in the country. As we are guided by the same lecturers as the state medical faculties I don’t see that there is a difference in the knowledge we get. The Students at SAITM have learnt to gather the maximum out of what we have been offered.

Sri Lanka has more than 100 private school and over 5000 students pass out each year and majority of these students want to do medicine and be doctors. It’s just sad to see that Sri Lankan government is yet not able to provide a proper path for these students. Studying abroad is not easy. It cost a lot and this money could be kept within the country if the government had established a way to do so.

At present, there are over 800 students at SAITM, students who are smart and very well qualified. I hope you would take some time and read their stories. Closing down SAITM is not the answer. Nobody would want their dreams destroyed! Education is a right for all no matter what background we come from. So I am asking you to help us! #standwithSAITM

#MySAITMStory
 #මගේSAITMකතාව

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Latest comments

  • 13
    28

    When SAITM students are working hard, the Govt. Med Students are striking wasting our tax money!

    Get rid of free education or get rid of these free-loaders!

    • 6
      1

      How do you know that government students are not working? stupid

  • 31
    7

    I am a student of a state medical faculty, and I feel the pressure on these students. They are been crushed from our side as well as from their own administration.

    If anybody wants to start a PMC, though it’s not a suitable solution for SL, he should first set up a proper hospital for teaching it’s students because clinical training is the utmost importance of medical training program. They he needs legitate approval from the respective parties. And then, the plan is a go…

    SAITM, though they claim to have UGC, and SLMC recognition, actually have not undergone the proper procedure of getting the approval. SLMC kept on putting on notices continuously from the time this institute started admitting students.

    It has to be the responsibility of themselves to have an assurence from the unbiased professional bodies before they got into it.

    These stories are sympathizing, but it doesn’t mean that these students are good to go out as doctors.

    • 9
      7

      “I am a student of a state medical faculty, and I feel the pressure on these students. They are been crushed from our side as well as from their own administration.”

      Happy that you feel for these people.

      But from your side, how long before you qualify and then go into a State Hospital, only to leave daily after 1 hour to attend your lucrative “Chanelling” Practice ?? All the while getting Duty Free Permit and other perks and going on strike for one reason or the other ?

      You guys talk big about others being corrupt but don’t appreciate any of the FREE University education that you have received for which the PEOPLE of this country PAID TAX

      The reality is the publicly-funded and FREE University qualified doctors are afraid of competition

      • 2
        1

        we can’t blame on doctors who are doing private practice because this system is corrupted. politicians are the top. so, no point of blaming a group.
        This includes to SAITM too.

    • 4
      2

      Roshan

      I shall repost what I have said elsewhere in another “My SAITM story”

      All I would say is, once the district quota system was established from 1974 the place of merit got the backseat. Now the cream of society being selected to the University is simply a fantasy. Since most are rural areas and is politically advantageous this dubious and unfair district basis was created. There are many students with poor results and low aggregate found places in University due to the unfair district basis displacing many candidates with good AL results just because they are from good schools.

      It is only fair in a country where all citizens are equal, in a exam that is common to all merit should be the sole criteria for admission as it was prior to 1974. The candidate who scored higher marks should stand above a candidate with lower marks.

      In the bygone era when the students were admitted on an all island merit basis standards were very high and Sri Lankan doctors were well respected all over the world. Now the standards have dropped drastically due to such poor quality students being admitted.

      So what is wrong for such capable students to seek a private medical college to fulfill their aspirations which was unfairly snatched from them simply to satisfy greedy and selfish politicians.

      I see many write in these forums that money cannot buy a degree. Sorry that is not correct wrong! In the same spirit I would also say you cannot make doctor out of idiots. It was because of the money many students are punished for going to a good school and have to obtain a punitive high grade and aggregate to enter the state medical faculty or Engineering faculty when people from the rural schools are given favouration over the ‘rich’ counterpart to enter the state medical faculty with low results and aggregate. So what is wrong in using money to help them to also fulfill their dreams, when these students can be so punished for their parents having money! All these heat from the GMOA is purely due to jealousy when many of the members are doctors who entered getting very poor results solely because of the district basis and they do not want these students with higher grade and aggregate they unfairly displaced to come back and haunt them!

      • 2
        1

        District quota system is obviously there to equalise the opportunity.Sri Lanka has one of the lowest percentages of people migrating to cities in the world. Probably some tweeking of the Quota system is the answer.
        Sometimes it is important to realise that perfection cannot be achieved but trying to achieve equality is what we have to strive for.

      • 0
        0

        you are completely wrong because popular school has all the facilities including good teachers, so district basis has to be there

        • 2
          0

          Vijaya fernando

          Then there is no purpose to go to a good school. It gives something in one hand and takes away in the other hand. I would rather register myself in a rural school and bribe the teacher and stay in Colom and go for good tuition classes.

          I know this was being practiced.

          Might as well do the same for cricket also students from schools with now playground and other training facilities should have a their score multiplied by a factor and say for example they score multiplied by 1.5 so if they scored 10 runs it would 15 runs. Good idea know!

          • 2
            1

            you are talking about one or two students, but majority of students are living in those areas are not affluent.

            if a students enter into a medical school with 3 Bs form the district quota system is equal to a student gets A star from popular school. if you can’t understand this simple theory mean you are like a SAITM students

    • 2
      0

      Rosh n, The problem is with Prof Fonsek , who is plying politics.He is fool. His job is to find w ys nd me ns of correcting this situ tion not to mke mess of it.

    • 4
      2

      Roshan,

      It is unrealistic to expect a start-up med school to come with a teaching hosipital too.

      There are growing pains for new privately owned med school.

      For the good of the country, we need private med schools.

      Look at USA, all their med schools are fee-paying and they are pretty good. Anything govt., it turns out to be bad.

      Roshan, when you have a child will you send your kid to a Maha Vidyalaya or a private school. The chances are that you will trust a private school.

      Who are you fooling.

    • 0
      1

      Roshan is it true that Saitm student are of a lesser standard than Government student?
      Has a full objective study been conducted to measure the quality of the students?

      • 2
        0

        Vijaya fernando

        The rural students form the majority In the state university than the city students because of the district quota basis. So if you go by standards of students and if you measure standards as their aggregate at the AL exam , only the top few from the cities have gained admission with excellent results. I agree there would have been some cleaver rural students too with very good results. But majority of the students who obtained good results from the cities are left out for the district students with poor results with much lower aggregate to be admitted.

        So these are the students now seeking redress through SAITM to fulfill their life long ambitions to become doctors having denied due to district quota basis.

        So in average SAITM has better students when the state universities have students of mostly of poor caliber but a few are very good, who are exceptional students who are actually genius those few who managed to come within the small allocation to the cities. So if one is from the city you have to belong to the rare of rare genius class to hope to enter the state university. If this state continues city students now must thing ahead make wise decision to enroll in a poor district school but get private tutory classes organized from well known good teachers from the cities . Otherwise there is no chance for a city student for any hope to enter a state university unless he or she belongs to the genius class!

  • 4
    3

    Reading comments on these article and others related to the SAITM debacle, it is well apparent that only a few know the basics of medical education, registration and licensing.
    We all like and want more medical schools in Sri lanka either state or private. I don’t disagree with that and even the SLMC and GMOA don’t disagree. However, the most important aspect of establishing a new medical school is that it should maintain a certain standard prescribed by the SLMC by obtaining accreditation from this medical body. Once accredited all graduates from such medical school will gain automatic registration and licensure to practice medicine. This is the standard followed by every country with their medical institutions.
    The medical body is an independent entity solely consisting of experienced senior physicians and surgeons. In no country this medical body allows politicians or any other interest groups to interfere with this strict professional activity, the very reason the GMOA is keeping an eagle eye on what the gov. and the court system is up to. Fortunately, such medical organizations are powerful that governments never interfere. In my mind I do not want the gov. or the judicial system to decide who should be registered as physicians and issued licenses to practice medicine.
    If a private medical school like the SAITM is to be established they need to work closely with the SLMC first by learning the accreditation criteria. In general most important criteria they look for are, quality of admitted students, faculty involved in teaching, curriculum, quality and availability of basic sciences laboratories, libraries, clinical exposure, clinical faculty, student assessment methods. In the US all medical schools get accreditation only for 5 years and therefore reassessed every 5 years.
    Yes, we need new medical schools but they should be all accredited by the SLMC before students are admitted.

    • 1
      0

      Surely USA cannot be a good example for a superior country. It has 40 million people who do not have medical insurance. That is a large number of people without a very basic human need. It has over 7 million children who live below the poverty line.Sri Lanka has the largest Free of charge Eye Bank in the world. Free medical care(although standards can improve,it cannot be better than no care at all!)

    • 0
      0

      Where in the world do you have accredited buildings, lecture halls, hospitals, staff employed specially busy doctors, waiting for some slow moving or non existent accreditation team approval, and then advertise and look like beggars waiting for top class students who are foolish enough to commit themselves to such an imaginary situation. These writing nuts are insane and have lost their minds. Frivolous weirdos

  • 2
    2

    The moment district basis was introduced and students with very poor results and aggregate was allowed to enter with simply 4 passes (at the expense of those who had higher grade and much better aggregate with 2A’s and something) the floodgates were waiting to be opened and now it is done and so any one with 4 passes can do medicine and kill patients, so what is wrong? Why did the GMOA not shout then when people with 4 simple passes from rural areas become bad doctors, there is absolutely nothing wrong in moneyed people with 4 ordinary passes also do medicine paying money and may be kill people!

    But remember many students in SAITM were good students who obtained good results much better than many of those who have gained admission through unfair privilege of the district basis. They had to forego their due place for the so called rural lads.

    Why do we go to good schools? Certainly to be better off. That is what makes us, our intelligence, character, outlook, ability to express and communicate. Just hand picking people and giving a nice suit, tie and a coat and a stethoscope do not make you a man and a doctor. Many of these rural lads lack proper science knowledge and writing skills and putting them into medical college do not make them recover from what they have not acquired. May be they lacked facilities. but giving them a task to save life does no good.

    All these are politicians creations. They stopped English medium thinking they will help the village students. See what happened. There were no good books in Sinhala for the science subjects and people in Colombo who went to good schools knew the blunder politicians made and took advantage of the situation and were also taught in English in addition to the mother tongue and so stopping English medium actually helped the Colombo students who were able to read and acquire all the knowledge from freely available English science books. The lack of proper books affected the rural lads, had the opposite effect due to the narrow minded thinking of selfish politicians. So actually stopping English medium gave a undue advantage to the Colombo and other developed cities like Kandy, Jaffna and so on So you can’t blame the Colombo and other good school students for this blunder and make them now pay the price.

    Now due to district basis of admissions majority entering are from rural districts and the standards of the Universities are deteriorated and doctors do not have the respect we had many years ago. Now even the Minister of Health run to Singapore for treatment.

    Stopping private medical education will not resolve the problem and will only aggravate it. Stopping district basis will go a long way to bring back the lost respect and quality of the Sri Lankan doctor.

    • 0
      0

      There is no reason why students who know singhalese cannot learn English too

      • 1
        1

        Vijaya fernando

        Yes I agree but the reality is, does not seem to happen at the ground. Languages should be learnt at a very young age and learning later on you are handicapped and that is the truth. It is like learning to swim.

  • 2
    1

    To Sikuli!
    Medical doctors, after their MBBS can go abroad for their post graduate degrees. At this level, any postgraduate is supposed to share his/her knowledge and experience with students and professors from other parts of the world. There are less exams but research papers and discussions are the foundation of post graduate degrees.
    As a postgraduate I know the value of sending graduate students for postgraduate degrees abroad. However, no developed country allows undergraduates to earn medical degrees through the back door; medical profession is not a money-making enterprise! Only a selected few will be chosen every year since it is different from other subjects and fields.
    Please do not upset the apple-cart since we in Sri Lanka have done it a few times and pay the price for our gullible decisions in other domains.

    • 1
      0

      A postgraduate

      Then abolish district basis and select along purely all island merit and that is what is fair. It is a common syllabus and a common exam and a person who had a higher aggregate should stand a better chance than those with lower aggregate. but this is not so. This was one of the main reason for starting Private medical education. We have seen people form the so call rural districts obtaining simple passes in all the subject and displacing and denying admission to those with 2A and something. just because they are from city schools.

      I know of many for the rural areas come to Colombo for classes and are registered in the rural school and take advantage. This is grossly unfair. A student’s future depends on this and is no joke.

      • 1
        0

        if district basis is abolished, are you the person work on those under privileged districts?

        • 0
          0

          sama

          Then what is the advantage to go to a good school paying money, might as well register in a rural school and and use part of the money otherwise spent as school fees to bribe the staff of the rural school to mark the register present and remaining money to pay private tutories to learn from hand picked popular teachers.

          I know of many from the rural areas come to Colombo for classes and are registered in the rural school and take advantage.

          In fact even students from ‘good’ city schools go to private classes and use their notes to prepare for the exam. So it is not the school that matters it is the private teachers that mattered.

          I too many years ago went to a popular school in Colombo but I used my notes I got from private teachers to prepare for my AL exam and entered the university.

          Actually now in the modern world when we have the technology we can learn from anywhere. The internet is itself has valuable material to learn.

  • 0
    1

    The problem is definitely with SLMC who are playing politics with the country’s future. They have not done their responsibility to guide this institution to come out with the correct solutions. Right through out they have tried only to block this institute for their ideological reasons. They should give way to a more broad minded Committee to solve this problem.
    The GMOA knowing that the state cannot find the resources to establish more Medical colleges fast is trying to block the Private colleges to continue the shortages and extract the maximum from the Govt. Cannot there be an Independant foreign organization without the biased leanings who can give a report of all the Srilankan Medical Colleges with comparison to the neighbouhood Medical Colleges. Its definitely going to be very revealing.

  • 3
    0

    I’m not saying this girl is not smart. But London A/Ls is like peanuts when compared to the GCE A/L examination in Sri Lanka. It’s unfair to compare two exams as local A/L papers are very complex.

    • 0
      1

      You are completely wrong. Don’t agree with you.

    • 0
      1

      Guneris

      ” London A/Ls is like peanuts “

      Why don’t you sit the London ALs and let us know your results.

      I am sure you will be forced to declare yourself as a moron..

  • 2
    0

    Reality is different. these students are crushed in between politicians and businessman like nevel farando.
    other thing is parents are also wrong. knowing that international students are not admitted to state universities, why did they send their children to international schools.

    truth is bitter, but reality is clinical experience is not adequate, it is a danger.

  • 0
    0

    Its easy to say that you should send your children to state schools. But many like the middle class business persons who do not own houses , who have to migrate from city to city often, cannot find decent schools and have to send their children to International schools. The governments have all programmes for the Farmers, Govt. Servants, Fishermen etc. for land, houses and all sorts of relief. But others remain neglected. The Govt doctors have only to get a transfer and they get admitted to the better schools in the closest town.
    Why are we kidding ourselves about people with money getting admitted to SAITM only, Isnt the rich and previledged bying houses close to major city schools and getting them registered there visiting the places only once in a way and getting admitted to the schools. Otherwise make a good donation to a good school and get the children admitted there. The political contacts get all the advantages through political favours. why only Private Medical Education inequalities are highlighted?

  • 0
    0

    There are bad schools without facilities even in Colombo then what about these students? Whether you are from good schools, bad schools, rural schools and city schools are merely excuses.

    I too entered the university from a Colombo school many years ago, but the teachers were not good and I had to attend private classes and depended on these notes to do well in my exam and enter the university. There were many from outstation also came for these classes.

    Therefore rural schools and city schools are mere excuses to get an undue advantage and only thing that is a fact is the results and the aggregate.

    People did pay their hard earn money to educate their children in good schools to take advantage all good and legitimate reasons and the selfish politicians and jealous people now want to destroy the value of good schools by now making such students to obtain very high results as a punishment for attending good schools which only a genius could make it. So now force these parents to do the wrong thing by sending their children to rural schools to take advantage for all bad reasons for now ‘learning’ in rural schools gives a better chance for higher education.

    So might as well register in a rural school and and use part of the money otherwise spent as school fees to bribe the staff of the rural school to mark the register present and remaining money to pay private tutories to learn from hand picked popular teachers.

    That will only collapse the value of a good school in the long term. It is this wrong policy which resulted in poor quality doctors now coming out of state medical faculties, who cannot speak or communicate properly and decently. This was not so before when admissions were purely on all island merit, and when doctors from this country were highly respected all over the world.

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