17 December, 2017

Blog

My SAITM Story

By Ammar Jawfer

Ammar Jawfer

Why London Syllabus?

I am a proud product of Gateway College, Colombo. We were abroad as my father was working in the Sri Lankan Embassy, Riyadh, KSA. Therefore, I had already started my education at the Sri Lankan International School, Riyadh, in the Edexcel syllabus and therefore had to follow it when we returned to Mother Sri Lanka. One ought to bear in mind, that getting entry into international schools are not as easy as they perceive. There are waiting lists almost similar to getting into state schools and they also have placement tests for to sit for to get entry. Just walk into any international school in Colombo and you will understand what I am talking about. The false ideology where if you have money, you can enter into any international school is completely baseless.

I believe that I was blessed to have received my education at Gateway College, the brain child of late Mr. Alles, who was our chairman. He nurtured us to be great individuals and he repeatedly stressed the importance of giving back to this country as he has done so by example. He also encouraged us to become all round students, not just sticking to studies alone or sports alone but to be able to do both, to balance it and to then strive and achieve further. We followed in none other than that pathway and were able to reap various benefits as time went on.

I sat for ordinary level examination, 2 months after having continuously trained and participated in our Annual Inter-International Athletics Championship and managed to walk away with an Edexcel High Achiever Award. I believe that I was able to do this with the backing and guidance of our dear chairman, Mr.Alles and my teachers to whom I am ever so indebted. It wasn’t easy.

Why SAITM?

In 2011, for my Advanced levels, apart from the 4 subjects in the bio-science stream, I did 2 additional subjects, which were per my interest in them. I managed to get good results in that too and it was hard. With prefect ship duties, sports and other activities at school, time was the ultimate factor.

During this period, I was contemplating on my final studies. I had already decided to do medicine. I wanted to become a doctor and I had various reasons for that, which were mainly three. The first was the ability to serve people and not just people, but the people of this country. Another reason was my mother who is sick and suffering from a chronic disease. She has supported me in every juncture and I believe that I owe her as well as my father a lot for everything that I have achieved in my life as they are the 2 pillars of my life which I was blessed with from God Almighty. So I wanted to try and see if I can find out a way to find a cure for the people suffering from this disease as well.

The final reason is a personal quote and motto of mine,

“To make someone smile is something…

But.. to make someone smile and know that you are a part of the reason for that smile, is something words cannot explain”

I wanted to do medicine in Sri Lanka, so I checked out the state universities and there was no way that I could join them. I looked in to Sri Jayawardenapura University because if you had studied abroad you could enter through the foreign quota but I wasn’t eligible because I should have done my exams abroad for that. So although my batch mates who remained back at Riyadh, were able to get in to the Sri Jayawardenapura University having studied the same syllabus that I did, I wasn’t able to. I then looked in the Kotelawala Defence University but at that time, yet again, there was no entry method for a student who had studied the Edexcel Syllabus. The only option I had was to go abroad for to do medicine. We checked various places and the total cost inclusive of the tuition fee, travelling cost, food and other daily expenditure at a relatively good SLMC recognized university was roughly at a minimum of around 7 million Sri Lankan rupees. This was with the additional difficulty of having to learn the language of that country, to be dependent on translators, to be able to cope and live in different conditions as well. Having learnt from my friends and seniors that this wasn’t relatively easy and a simply fairy tale as some people describe it to be, I still wanted more options. And not to mention the fact that having studied and finished medicine abroad, one has to come back here and sit for the Act 16 exam at which there was a pass rate of 13%! What kind of a mental block is that with regard to spending so much money and coming back and not being able to pass this test and practice as a doctor in mother Lanka?

It was too much pressure and a decision that would affect a lifetime.

It was during this time that I heard about SAITM at an educational exhibition. I wanted to look into it further, so with a couple of other friends from school, visited this university to check it out. We were initially not very sure but they sat and explained the entry requirements, their progress and how they plan to further the status the university was in. In August 2011, they had just received the UGC degree awarding status. They explained that they had initially been given permission to use the Homagama Hospital but were unfortunately denied due to protests by the GMOA and that they had already started building our own hospital for our studies. The course fee was reasonable at Rs.6.6million when we were checking it out. So we thought about it further and the benefits that we had were many, we wanted to be able to do medicine here so that we have a firsthand exposure and knowledge of the health system in Sri Lanka as well the diseases that we have instead of learning of other diseases or illnesses that aren’t as commonly found in Sri Lanka, which would have been the case had we gone abroad. We were able to study it here while travelling from home itself or even boarded here in Sri Lanka, our own country which means a lot. Since the fee was comparatively reasonable, it meant a lot less burden upon my parents who had to find funds for not just my higher education but my brothers as well which weren’t easy. And last but not least, this was the ONLY place in Sri Lanka that offered a medical degree to a student who had studied the London Edexcel syllabus. So in the end, I ended up joining here in September 2011.

Life at SAITM

We were initially explained of our syllabus, of how we have only 3 attempts at any final exam. To break it down would mean that initially we get our valid chance to sit at the final exam say anatomy. Then if we fail it, we get a repeat chance to do it. If we fail that, we are de-batched meaning held back and given a chance to do it and if you pass you continue in the lower batch. However if you fail that too, then you get one more final attempt after which if you fail it, you are then not allowed to continue to study medicine at SAITM no matter who you are or what you have paid because it is a way to maintain standards.

We started our first year with a total of 72 students as the 5th batch of SAITM and our medical life started. It was hectic, hard and grueling to keep up with the need of studying daily, being ahead and also trying to do a bit of sports on the side but we all managed to. We kept on getting through our exams but some faltered along the way and we are currently now 52 students in our Final year doing our professorial appointments at NFTH.

As though the pressure of our medical education wasn’t enough we are also burdened with the fact that we are continuously being unfairly called as under qualified to do medicine, incapable of studying properly and not being taught by qualified by proper teachers where in reality, it is the complete opposite. We are being taught by the likes of Prof.Neville Perera, Prof.Anura Weerasinghe, Prof. Deepthi and many other distinguished doctors and professors who are highly qualified and further to that is the fact that they have taught in most of the state faculties in Sri Lanka as well. So we are being taught by the same if not even better teachers than at the state faculties.

Obviously we too get scolded, we get shouted at and what not when we do not do speak up or get something wrong as is, per the teaching practices which generally occurs in our country in the medical profession. So we are not treated with any difference just because we are non-state medical students, all students are treated like students, nothing less or nothing more. In contrast, our professors and lecturers are more strict on us, as they was want us to produce the best doctors possible with the various qualities that need to be nurtured and practiced. And I personally believe that, we only but learn more and remember important life lessons each time we get scolded.

We have all passed our Advanced Level examinations, I can voice and guarantee that the entire 5th batch students were all interviewed by the UGC and that our results are with them as well, even as of today. We had all acquired the minimum standards set by the UGC, required to do medicine back then, which was 3 simple passes in the bio stream.

We are being assessed continuously in various methods ranging from random tutorials to set discussions and so on and so forth. We are very fortunate to be able to have almost direct access to all our professors and lecturers if we are in need to clarify any doubts we have.

The GMOA says that our hospital isn’t sufficient and that it’s nothing like getting training at a state hospital, but when we request for state hospitals for to train in, even while offering to improve the standards of these hospitals, for the benefit of the general public, they do not allow us.

So they want us to train in state hospitals, but they won’t allow us to train at state hospitals.

It’s quite an unrealistic and biased threat, as well as an unfair allegation to make when they are the ones withholding our education by doing so.

The sad situation is that is our very own brothers and sisters as well, out there who are also doing medicine and going to become future doctors, opposing us. And it’s quite sad to see how they are being manipulated by various parties only for their own personal greed. These students are missing their own lectures and classes and sacrificing their time for these purposes. It’s a known fact that studies in the state factor never finish on time and maybe on rare occasions does that occur, simply due to various strikes and what not. So in addition to that, they are getting further delayed by all these protests too. Of late, they are even being bombarded by tear gas and water cannons… but if you ask them, not even 90% of them know about SAITM, know exactly why they are on the road, and they do not want to close or prevent another child’s education but they are being forced to. That is the sad reality.

We at SAITM find it difficult to even participate in sports with our studies. I can only imagine how much the workload must be for the state faculty students when they are being forced to waste their time and effort on something they don’t want to.

I only hope that the small faction that are against us, will understand the need of the private medical education and the necessity for more children of mother Lanka who has studied in the London Syllabus for to be able to do medicine here in Sri Lanka and to serve our country without having to suffer and go through added burden of going abroad. It is a move that will be beneficial for the whole of the medical community, and for patients to be able to consult any doctor when and wherever they want. We cannot burden the government into providing us with everything. The government is already in debt, we are already having free education and a free health system at a quality which not many countries can boast about. We have to appreciate it and only try and help instead of failing it.

Small steps like these will help the future of Sri Lanka, it’s time we step out of the warp that we have been in all throughout the years of the civil war. We are at a time of development, a time to move forward and a time to learn. Our generation has to change, our people have to change and become less self-centered. The Sri Lankan culture, which has been instilled within many, is to look at our neighbors and complain, instead, we should congratulate them and try if we can to achieve our own. We have to develop as a nation. We can develop as a nation. We can even take on the world. We just need to set our priorities right, have practical targets and work as a family or a team. It’s high time the Sri Lankan flag starts to fly high in areas other than cricket alone. Let’s all unite and stand together for our education and for our country’s future.

I am Ammar Jawfer, a final year medical student of SAITM and this is my story.

I thank you profusely for taking your valuable time to read.

#MySAITMStory #iStandwithSAITM #FFE #FutureofSL #මගේSAITMකතාව

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Latest comments

  • 5
    15

    I have two concerns because, I did not read the whole article.

    why don’t you be happy with the present outcome saying it is the Almighty’s wish ?

    Students apply to British Medical colleges even from North america because, I think, easy to get enrollement.

    Why don’t you people don’t apply for british medical schools instead applied for this unknown SAITM university ? O think you guys looked for easy exist ?

    Probably lack of over all understanding.

    All these, I want to work in my country is BS. If your wish is to serve the country, see how even the ones who got free education, houses, duty free car permits stop working putting patients lives in jeopardy.

  • 9
    16

    I am sorry but

    My SAITM story is becoming stale.

    Initially I thought its’ about the story of “SAITM students” helping out with war widows and war victims and reconciliation.

    I mean sort of we SAITM students travelled to war affected areas and helped al communities.

    ok we heard enough …

    • 7
      8

      Yes, how many can WE read?

      Also, remember that although we keep commenting, we are not a representative group. I feel that we are mostly elderly, and the moment English becomes the language that is used, it is unfortunate, but true that 90% of Sri Lankans are left out.

      That is not to suggest that 10% of Sri Lankans are reading this! We are probably a handful drawn from the 10% of families who use English.

      The need is to reach out to those who do not operate in English. The students of SAITM will have to do some thinking on this aspect of their campaign. Also, are the many observations already made by us being taken in to account by those who are now posting new articles? I get the feeling that these were all written about week or two ago, and have not been influenced by all our comments that have already been posted. That will, in many senses be to insult us readers. I hope you don’t resent my saying that.

  • 4
    10

    This is for all the naysayers,

    1. Why does your SLMC/GMOA group love to wear the badge of FRCS,FRCS, MRCP etc with pride when infact it is also a British fellowship?

    The very bunch of MO’s and students protesting would die to get these qualitifications to quote for you double standard.

    2. Why can’t SLMC/GMOA device their own syllabus to become Consultants without passing through british exams as it is sub-standard to Sri Lankan education?

    I have to respectfully disagree with the writer on this point – “Act 16 exam at which there was a pass rate of 13%! What kind of a mental block is that with regard to spending so much money”

    I will not argue on the line of money spent as it would bring again the whole debate about paying and buying degree.

    • 4
      3

      Do not display your ignorance here.

      MD for internal medicine consultants and MS for surgical consultants are local post graduate degrees.

      You do not have to go out of the country to get these.

      • 6
        1

        @John,

        You are showing your intelligence it seems. No Sri Lankan university is within top 200 in the world university rankings and you claim to be the best of the world and cream of the crop in the whole world. Do NOT even trigger me to begin mentioning about the your research publications and citations with your intellectual brilliance.

        Also, I would love to hear some names of so called famous surgical consultant who does not have a british or american fellowship and/or overseas training.

        CT: if you see this, Please try to re-post this newsworthy article written by honorable doctor.

        [Edited out]

        For god sake, wake up from your pipe dream of calling yourself being the best.
        Needless to say, If you do not have overseas training you know that you are frog in the well.

        • 0
          0

          I meant to say top 2000’s, University of Colombo rankes – 2171 and rest needless to mention.

        • 2
          0

          You are going off point. I replied to your comment “Why can’t SLMC/GMOA device their own syllabus to become Consultants without passing through british exams as it is sub-standard to Sri Lankan education?”

          Nowhere did I mention Sri Lankan education is superior to US or British but also note many Sri Lankan graduates enter these prestigious institutes and excel in these universities as post graduate scholars. Some even becoming top professors and consultants

          I emphasize you cannot become a consultant in any country without that own countries post graduate qualifications.

          Also there are consultants who don’t have foreign qualifications. (There is no need for that as some conditions, diseases are different.to the west). I am not going to publish names here. Find out on you own. It is to protect them from people who still suffer from a colonial mentality who think everything local is rubbish
          .

          .

          • 1
            0

            Have to make amendment that in regulated Sri Lankan state sector that you cannot become a consultant without local post graduate qualifications. I am told that in Sri Lankan private sector there are consultants with only foreign qualifications. This is not allowed in the west where there is more governance and accountability.

            • 0
              0

              You are the one who was saying it, Please so corroborate with evidence.

    • 0
      0

      I agree respectfully with your sentiment as to why we still feel we need the Royal Societies.
      I think it is good to have an outside country awarding the quality standard.
      At a time when Britain is looking for new relationships after Brexit- when a majority of the British public did not want to be part of the European Union(I think the people in Britain were fed up with a non elected organisation dictating to the people. A concept that the British would be familiar with as for 150 years they did that to Sri Lanka) , someone should suggest a commonwealth qualification. So that the old relationships could blossom again. This time not by the use of the gun but by the use of the brain!

  • 6
    6

    If you can find a cure for your mother it will be a miracle as millions of other already qualified doctors are on the same path!!

  • 12
    3

    Dear Ammar,
    No doubt that you had worked hard and performed well in both academic and extra-curricular activities. It’s nice if you had a chance to get into a medical college at least matching standards at Gateway.
    It’s like this. If you have never been to beach or have never seen the sea, you can only guess. People would tell you that the lake you inhabit is as big as the sea and the experience is the same. You’d never know what you’d missed until you get there. Unfortunately, you are in a place where you won’t learn medicine as it is practiced and learnt in centres anywhere in the country or for that matter any decent medical school anywhere in the world.
    Demand good medical education for yourself. And ask for standardisation. Let the owners and administrators do you justice by upholding current standards of medical education in the country so that you as students and the country as a whole benefit. Let private education be a quality one and tell your bosses to not to fool you and mess your future.
    Good luck and study hard. You need to do something about lack of resources.

  • 9
    3

    You got to the root of this so called SAITM problem. GMOA says that you need to train, but they wont let you train by totally blocking your paths threatening and intimidating all in Parliament, Mild executives, UGC, SLMC, Health ministry. But they cant touch the judiciary, bribes or not they try. So carry on with the struggle, till they meet their waterloo. People fear thinking cant get medicine, but there are a lot of decent doctors still in SL who will treat you even if these GMOA thug mafia tries to kill. They approached all political parties and found a bankrupt party to support them. But justice will eventually prevail. That is how this world runs. If you understand that all are struggling in life, you can achieve what you want regardless of the devils bitter roots deep in GMOA.
    Many on strike do not know real details, but go with the crowd. Never visited SAITM falsely accused. Press into 2 year internship as clinical training of Deans is out of bounds for you with GMOA. You know it. ERPM pass rate 13% tells you what to expect there. Be wise as to what you will agree to in any negotiation This nation will survive in spite of this thug mafia. We survived the last govt. Be encouraged

  • 12
    3

    Ammar Jawfer

    RE: My SAITM Story

    “The GMOA says that our hospital isn’t sufficient and that it’s nothing like getting training at a state hospital, but when we request for state hospitals for to train in, even while offering to improve the standards of these hospitals, for the benefit of the general public, they do not allow us.”

    What is the GMOA SLMC Story?

    Thanks for sharing your story. It is instructive to note that out of 72 students who entered, only 52 managed to get to the 5th year. .It will be interesting to identify the common factors of those who dropped out. What were theit average IQs. What were the grades when they entered.

    So why the double standards for Private Medical Schools?

    There are private hospitals, private schools, why not private universities and private medical schools? The people will certainly benefit.

    It is not about the people or country. It is about the cast-ism and hegemony of GMOA and SLMC. Do they have a problem with Ayurveda?

    There is certainly a need for more medical schools, to serve the populace, based on market demand. They also need to meet certain minimum standards. Unfortunately, the cast-ism of the GMOA and SLMC , the Mafioso, is getting in the way. They have no right to block you or any other students. Let the market forces dictate supply and demand.

    It is time all the people speak up. The people will be better served with more medical graduates.

    Looks like GMOA and SLMC are trying to restrict the supply so that they can fleece the masses with private practice and private hospitals.

    • 4
      10

      Marakkalamarasiri,

      Your views on medical education are as useful as Benyamin Natanyahu’s on Palestinian Human Rights.

      Keep your computer switched off for a week and wake up to see where things are.

      You are a nuisance.

      • 6
        2

        Point Blank
        (300 Words)
        Point Blank, Idiot.

        Are you in the Payroll of SLMC and GMOA just like the JVP?

        So, you also want to protect the cast-ism of the Mafioso?

        Just look at the Level of Diabetes in Sri Lanka over the past 50 years. SLMC and GMOA had
        Allmost the exclusive privilege of treating the populace. Now 14% of the population is diabetic and another 33% are pre-diabetic. The ignorant doctors have been asking to avoid coconut oil because it is “saturated’ forgetting the fact most of it is low molecular weight fatty acids and good go and lacks trans fats.

        Will throwing more medical graduates from SAITIM help? Yes, if they are properly trained and they have the intelligence and qualifications needed.

        Nearly four Million Diabetics in Sri Lanka

        The Diabetes Association of Sri Lanka (DASL) statistics reveals that there are nearly four million diabetics in Sri Lanka.

        According to the association, more and more young persons were being afflicted by the disease and though the number of people affected by diabetics was ever-increasing, the country had not yet taken serious steps to reduce the risk of diabetes.

        The prevalence of diabetes in the country had dramatically increased from around 16 per cent in 2009 to 20 per cent in 2014.

        The diabetes prevalence among the people over 20 years in the urban population was 16 per cent and among the rural population it was eight per cent. Under the age of 20 years it was 8.2 per cent,.

        Overweight and lack of exercise were the main causes of diabetes among children, while family history, food habits and obesity were the main causes among adults.

        Adopting a healthy diet and increasing physical activity can prevent the development of Type 2 Diabetes up to 80 per cent.

        http://www.news.lk/news/business/item/5701-nearly-four-million-diabetics-in-sri-lanka

  • 6
    3

    No human can be a product …whether proud or ashamed…whether Gateway or Kahatagusdliya madya maha vidyalaya. This stupidity and trying to feel superior from the day started schooling put the 1st foundatuon in divided Sri Lankans, with bogus imaginary class that resides in Stupid minds whether doctor proctor or Hector.

  • 4
    3

    All these #mysaitmstories intrigue sympathy, but no one is saying how they came to a logical conclusion and a decision that they can pursuit a medical degree which was not recognized by the SLMC even when SLMC continuously advertised each year that this institute is not recognized by the professional body regarding medicine in SL.
    the saitm students should put up a lawsuit for the fraud by the Saitm administration. #mysaitmstory (just my opinion)

    • 3
      2

      Reflects my fear that this string of similar feelings will not appeal to thinking people.

  • 0
    0

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  • 0
    0

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

  • 5
    4

    Ammar
    Sue the hell out of people responsible for starting SATIM including Nevil Fernando. They should have never admitted students without the assurance of SLMC registration.

    Also, blame your self and your parents for enrolling in SATIM without finding out their SLMC accreditation status.

    • 0
      0

      So you want those who have money to go abroad become doctors and spent our valuable foreign exchange and others to forget medicine (their dreams come true).

  • 4
    1

    All these SAITM stories are about students.
    How about the teachers? What are their names, specialties, posts?
    Who appointed them and how?
    Are they teaching/serving as specialists elsewhere too, and if so, how do they find the time to teach at SAITM.

  • 0
    0

    “……………….We are being taught by the likes of Prof.Neville Perera, Prof.Anura Weerasinghe, Prof. Deepthi and many other……………………”
    Ammar Jawfer: You must get your professors to write about the courses.

    “……….we get shouted at and what not when we do not do speak up or get something wrong as is, per the teaching practices which generally occurs in our country in the medical profession……….”
    Again your professors may certify that you get shouted at to the same standard and that you are imbibed the “Doctor Arrogance” to the best of their ability.

  • 3
    2

    why ddnt u look into the credibility of SAITM when u joined? specially the SLMC’s stance on it? dont try to earn sympathy when you are the one at fault. nobody asked u to join a medical college which wasnt then recognized by SLMC. pls justify why u chose saitm against the advice of SLMC.

  • 1
    0

    The best option is to close this unrecognised illegal institution asap.
    What about the ‘medical students’ who are equally responsible for the current sad situation in the state medical faculties?

    They might be able to appy to other foreign universities to do other paramedical degrees including dentistry, nursing, physiotherapy, dietetics etc, who are basically all failed medical students. I knew an Indian doctor in Australia who was training to be an Ambulance driver, then become a paramedic as it involved re training & more exams.

    The last time this happened the government got toppled and Rajitha, was dead against NCMC. Now he is siding with SAITIM or SHUT’EM as I say because of his niece. This process will drag on, so will your careers. The other option is try getting into other Asian or Eastern European medical schools after dropping a few years. Passing out unregulated doctors with huge gaps in their knowledge is not only dangerous, but unethical. You need to smell the coffee even though it tastes rancid young man. All the luck. Be warned the whole cabinet including the lame president is reading these responses.

    The fact that you are unemployable outside Sri Lanka, should awake you to your challenging situation.

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