23 May, 2019

Blog

My SAITM Story

By Sahani Koralage

Sahani Koralage

Laying their life story bare in public in order to urge a government to take a policy decision is not something any student, studying anywhere in the world should ever have to face. In the face of wholesale lies that’s been spread around, We; the long suffering students of SAITM had no choice but to do this. This post has absolutely no intention of seeking public sympathy and I humbly request all who are prejudiced otherwise, to kindly not read any further.

#MySAITMStory
 #මගේSAITMකතාව

I was born as the first child in a middle class family. Luckily enough, to a father who’d do anything in his power to give his daughter the best life possible and to a mother who’s enlightened thousands of students including me in their way forwards in the academic world.

Both my parents being government workers, their collective salary rarely exceeds 60,000/= lkr per month.

I went to a private Montessori (1996-1997) (fee levying) before starting school in 1998. With utmost difficulty my father managed to enroll me in a then prestigious government girl’s collage. For thirteen years since then, I enjoyed ‘free’ education at Viharamaha Devi Balika Vidyalaya, Kiribathgoda. 
Was it entirely free of charge? No. My father had to spend for various stuff each year.

My parents strongly believed against tuition during the period of my primary education so, as a consequence, I was blessed with the best imaginable childhood filled with storybooks, fruits off the trees I used to climb, skinned knees and a bunch of friends to go crazy with. Up until I finished grade 5 scholarship exam (2002) my parents never made me sit and study anything unless I did it on my own. Having scored 135 where the pass mark was 134, I remember my father doing his first serious talk with me the night of the results day ,amidst the hype of receiving phone calls( 90% of them starting with “අයියෝ අපරාදෙ ටිකක් මහන්සි උනා නම් කොළඹ ඉස්කෝලෙකට යන්න තිබුණා” ) 
[Which I find strangely similar (and just as disgusting) to “අපරාදෙ තව පාරක් කලා නම් medicine යන්න තිබුණා” that I get from many even today ]
But my father told me , “This mark is 100% yours and you have done well. Don’t compare it with anyone elses’ cause your circumstances and theirs are not the same. Just remember a scholarship exam is by no means decisive of your capability. ”

With that planted strongly in the back of my mind I started my secondary studies in the same school in English medium. We were the first batch to face O/Ls under the new syllabus and the second batch of the school to face it in English medium. Teachers were fairly new and for some subjects we didn’t have a teacher for a whole year. I faced my GCE O/Ls in 2008 December and got my results ( 9As) on April 4th 2009 (Yes. After four months, cause our system is ‘that’ efficient.)

By that time I was set up on doing Biology for A/Ls just because I was fascinated by science, specially human anatomy since I was 12 and I loved making my own notes, referring books that were meant for people much older than me. My father wanted me to do languages (Apparently because I kept on scribbling ever since he can remember and managed to secure all island merits in literature and composition) but didn’t force me in to anything. Only thing he said was, “don’t do bio just because you fancy a steth around your neck” which was fine by me since I never had a doctor fantasy ever in my life. My father made me look at it like just another job which is falsely glorified in the Sri Lankan context. I’d rather fancy being a scientist, I told him.

My school started classes for A/Ls in 2009 August (four months after O/L results) I was set to do my A/Ls in English medium as well.(despite the lack of resources in my school) because I was so used to referencing and making my own notes , that it drove me crazy trying to adapt to Sinhala specially when it came to Biology. (by this time, I’ve tried a month of Sinhala medium classes with no luck.) Again we were the first batch to face A/Ls under the new syllabus so our teacher’s guides and curricula came sickeningly late. ( just how efficient the free education system was) To be exact, the chemistry curriculum only came out six months before the exam.

For my A/Ls I never attended a mass tuition class. For two reasons 
1. There were no proper tuition classes in English medium in my area. 
2. I was making my own notes based on the teachers’ guides and curricula.

Nevertheless for biology I had the help of this amazing lady Mrs. Kalupahana and for physics, that of very kind and dedicated sir from St. Thomas’ collage; Mr. Upali. 
I faced my A/Ls in 2011 August and waited for months before the release of results on 26th December, Which was without a doubt, the most epic fail in the history of all results’ releases. Fun fact- I have four different printouts from the doenets.lk website carrying four different sets of results in each. Amongst all the havoc, I applied for biology, applied biology and Indigenous medicine degrees offered by the state with the B,C & S I got that time since there were only two ways I could get where I wanted to go , one being a BSc in biology and a masters in molecular biology leading to a career in medical research the other being an MBBS which can directly lead to a career in medical research. For everything to get processed and for the system to take us in to universities it took forever! I’ve completed my second shy with BBC and CIMA (cert BA ) by the time University of Kelaniya offered me the BAMS degree for free. Even though I’ve already applied for a Russian scholarship for MBBS and for SAITM by that time, I thought I’d give this free degree a try since I loved the field and I could still go in to medical research with that. Got enrolled on 23rd April 2013 and spent three months in pure hell in the name of ragging where there was no freedom of education AT ALL. By this time I’ve received a vacancy for BSc in applied biology at University of Rajarata. I got enrolled there having left the hell hole in UOK and at about the same time I got called in for interviews at SAITM.

My father did his second serious talk with me that night. We’ve looked in to both the applied science degree and SAITM’s MBBS degree and my father was convinced with SAITM having talked to the professors and lecturers there, some of them being his own teachers. They had a fully functioning teaching hospital at the time plus MOHE and UGC recognition. Now there were three options for me at this point. 1. Continue the BSc and hope for the best to have a chance at being a medical researcher which was a very long shot. 2. Take the chance with the Russian schol which would cost less than SAITM but will require learning a foreign language, five plus years in an unknown land with no one to support me and still after all that, the uncertainty with the time factor when it comes to ERPM exams in SL. 3. Do a Sri Lankan MBBS at SAITM. After having looked in to all the pros and cons in All three options we settled for the third. Not because my father could afford the cost of 67 lakhs (as of September 2013) But because like all good fathers he wanted the best for his daughter (He had to sell his only inheritance; a land, in order for the funds to spend for my higher education)

I faced two Interview rounds at SAITM along with 200 odd other applicants and by the time of the third interview which was conducted by the UGC there were only around 150 filtered applicants. The UGC interview finalized the intake for 2013 September which was around 120 students. (Which has reduced to just 98 as of today. So yeah , just because we pay, there’s no guarantee we’ll get an MBBS in return.) 
We started semester 01 on 16th September 2013 and since then I’ve faced a countless amount of OSCEs, Bars, Credits, Semester ends, mids, year ends so on and so forth. (After the end of first semester only I got the rescrutinity letter which made the C a B, just to point out how inefficient and unreliable the system was to me.) Now I’m a 4th year undergraduate, having completed my 1st and 2nd MBs all on first attempt. 
4th is the year in which we start clinicals and as of today, I have spent 6 months in to the fourth year, completed my first internal medicine appointment along with some other short appointments.

I have seen live, walking, talking patients. I have touched blood, sweat, sputum and human excreta without flinching, held the hands of dying patients , gone through the pain of losing a patient and the euphoria of getting a dying one well and about. For the record, I’ve also used rubber models to practice before touching live patients, if that’s a crime as you #NoPMC fellows claim.

Finally, to the one question that I’m certain will pop up in the comments, “Why did you go to SAITM when the SLMC repeatedly put paper advertisements asking students not to?” Here’s why, According to the Medical ordinance under which the SLMC is supposed to function, it has no authority to put such paper notices against a UGC approved medical faculty without substantial allegations reported and proved to the Minister of health. This same SLMC turned a blind eye towards KDU which functions without a hospital of its own up until today. This same SLMC has given recognition to 222 foreign medical faculties while only 77 of them have been evaluated. I can go on and on about the hypocrisy and double standards here. 
The SLMC, if they’ve acted according to the responsibilities vested in them by the medical ordinance, and not outside them. I wouldn’t be here telling you my life story. Taking crap from clueless people day in and day out. Every time I’m called a failure by an ignorant, I have to remind myself of my father’s serious talk number 1 and them of the fact that the GCE A/Ls is , in essence a scholarship examination where a government with limited budget allowance for tertiary education selects 27,000 out of 100,000 to teach for free. Just because this country’s government FAILED to educate every deserving child who’ve secured the necessary qualifications for higher education it DOES NOT mean that child is a failure. Open up your minds just enough to let that sink in. Please. 🙂

This is my story. To everyone who asks me why SAITM? All I have to say is why not?.

May all beings be well !

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Latest comments

  • 36
    9

    I feel sorry for children like this held hostage by a fraudulent institution. What you should do is question the proprietor why he lied to you. For example if you bought a damaged product from a shop, you would return it to the same shop and ask for your money back. Instead you want all the other shops to accept your damaged product as being equal to a quality product. If you are as smart as you say you shouldn’t have fallen to this trap.
    If you have the requisite marks, you should ask for your money back and go to a recognised foreign university to complete your degree. Stop wasting more years of your life.

    • 6
      19

      Nobody has been held hostage or been lied and there is no need to return damaged goods. Just recently, all the reasons put forward by those who oppose have been argued and cleared by the court of appeal. So please don’t be jealous of somebody getting good education. We should welcome more institutions like SAITM since that will help creating an educated society in Sri Lanka.

      • 4
        4

        Mr aravinda
        Then why is the cope investigating ? The illegal gazzets will be challanged soon
        Can u show me the compliance certificate of saitm which is need acording to the uni act ?
        Can u show me the health miniters approval ?

        • 1
          0

          COPE is controlled by the JVP and they made a little noise until Perpetual doled out a 100 Million. They are doing the same with SAITM until Neveille Fernando throws a few crumbs

  • 24
    6

    මගේ තාත්තට ගොඩක් සල්ලි තිබ්බේ නෑ. එයට හීනයක් තිබ්බා මාව ලොකු සල්ලිකාරයෙක් කරන්න. ඉතින් එයා අතේ තිබ්බ සල්ලි ඔක්කොම “සක්විති මුදලාලි ” ළඟ ආයෝජනය කළා. මහා බැංකුව කොච්චර දැන්වීම් දැම්මත් අපි ඒවා පිල්ගත්තේ නෑ. අනේ කොහොමහරි සක්විති මුදලාලිගේ ව්‍යාපාරය නීත්‍යනුකුල කරලා අපිට සල්ලි කාරයෝ වෙන්න ඉඩ දෙන්න
    #මගේසක්විතිකතාව #mysakvithistory

  • 8
    0

    My heart goes out to you .. ragging is rich a shameful and a sickening act only in Sri Lankan universities..this must be stopped immediately if Sri Lankan universities want bright young talent enrolled. You have already wasted so many years of your young life so I hope they will find an amicable settlement soon .. for all our other bright students there are so many recognized foreign universities that will open endless opportunities … good luck xx

    • 4
      0

      Devika, The primary reason why the menace of ragging has continued in our university system is the lack of adequate deterrent to stop this lowly act. Often offenders get a temporary class suspension and get away with the crime they have committed. The fact of the matter is, we cannot rely on university leadership to prevent this since they themselves have gone through the same mill and most of them even condone this activity. Offenders of this crime must be meted out with a punishment like long term imprisonment as a deterrent to others. Hope the recent incident at Peredeniya will wake up the government and get the police involved to stop this crime.

  • 0
    0

    [Edited out] Comments should not exceed 300 words.Please read our Comments Policy for further details.

  • 5
    12

    The SLMC and Carlo Fonseka are biased,they are the old frustrated lot.Carlo should be sent to jail for what he had done.

  • 11
    4

    Dear writer, i understand your dreams of becoming a medical researcher. However you should choose a path that would lead you to it. To become a medical researcher you cannot be confined to this country alone. It would require training in other countries as well. As far as i know SAITM is not listed in the FAIMER world list of medical schools. Most countries use this list to verify your degree. You might think SLMC is your only hurdle, but getting a degree from a substandard university will contiue to bring bars to your development.

  • 10
    4

    I think all are aware that there are people like you who got caught up in a mess like this. And yes we feel for you. It’s understandable that you are hurt and in pain because all your sacrifices and efforts are in the verge of getting washed down for nothing. But ask from yourself, with 6 months of clinical training, are u mature enough to assess how much training is needed to be a doctor? And in a country with no set minimum standards how did you assess your institute’s standards? You depend on what you are being told my friend. This one doesn’t even have BOI approval to start with. And NFTH only became functional after 2013. Check out all the gazettes, and the letters. Protect your rights. But don’t protect this fradulant institute who have cheated you as well. What you should do is ask the govt to gazette minimum standards, ask your institute to pay compensation for you guys and ask to establish a “proper” institute. Its not too late. Otherwise there is a chance that you will end up one day as those doctors in India wgo recently lost their license.

  • 5
    3

    This is not a problem of you and your father. and how you came to SAITM. that’s not a university at all. your CEO trying act like a cowboy. on the other hand nevil is lying to court. you have caught in that trap. you should shout against SAITM not the SLMC.

  • 6
    2

    The attitude of SLMC & GMOA towards private medical education and SAITM is a disgrace to a noble profession that the two bodies are supposed to represent. They have been exposed, well and truly, by a string of academics and a host of other professionals, of their double standards in assessing the suitability of SSAITM, to offer medical degrees.
    For sake of thousands of bright children who are otherwise deprived of higher education due to lack of places in the state universities, to stem the outflow of billions of foreign exchange spent on foreign education by students failing to gain admission of local universities and to meet the country’s need of doctors, the government should;(a) legalise SAITM as an institution eligible to award medical degrees with a proper regulatory mechanism, (b) encourage foreign universities to set up branches in Sri Lanka (c) encourage employment of qualified expatriate Sri Lankans/ foreigners to fill vacancies of academic staff of the Universities and (d) introduce evening sessions at universities to increase the intake of students.

  • 8
    6

    This shows how bright most of these SAITAM students are. please don’t blame SAITAM for this as we know how good it is. It has got the best lectures in the country and if they need clinical exposure why can’t GMOA provide it as per court orders. You can see how jealous GMOA AND SLMC are with SAITAM. Some of these people who comment doesn’t know anything about SAITAM. I am sure it will work out well you all Sahani. We are with you all the way and best of Luck!

  • 0
    0

    [Edited out] We are sorry, the comment language is English – CT

  • 6
    3

    Grate injustice to the innocent undergraduates of SAITEM

  • 0
    0

    [Edited out] We are sorry, the comment language is English – CT

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