By Godwin Constantine –
The Honourable President Mithripala Sirisena
President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
Dear Mr. President,
The plight of state university medical students
I pen this letter with great regret as our state medical faculty students are on the streets without being heard for more than 7 months now. The majority of these students are from average Sri Lankan families. They have worked hard and entered the universities to study medicine with great expectations. There are so many parents who have sent their children to study medicine, enduring immense economic hardship with the hope of seeing them as doctors. Fair number of these students are form rural villages, they have reached this state through their shear dedication and hard work, with a single objective of becoming successful in their lives. Thus far our educational system has offered poor students from under privileged areas an opportunity to climb up the ladder of social hierarchy through a justifiable competitive system.
I do not totally agree with the proposal put forwards by the Inter University Students’ Union to resolve the SAITM issue. However I do not disagree totally with the students on their stand as there are legitimate issues which need to be addressed at this stage or else the state medical faculty student’s future will be in jeopardy. There are many voices raised for and against SAITM. I do not intend to waste your time by delving into details of these issues. One pertinent issue that stands out from the very beginning is the undue favour shown by various persons in power towards SITM. The most recent being the “handing over” (Taking over) of Neville Fernando Hospital to the government, a move which will easily offset the economic benefit the country stands to achieve by establishing private medical college.
At present the private medical education initiatives that have been created in this country has given rise to an uneven playing field which has placed the state medical faculty students at a disadvantageous position. These students who have passed so many hurdles only to be sidelined in their career prospects (due to inherent delay in the national education system) by a privileged group of students are unreasonable. Properly planned and properly regulated private medical education can create a healthy balance of competition and advancement in medical education in this country. Unplanned and poorly regulated private medical education will make medical education a commodity and destroy the integrity of medical education in this country.
State medical faulty students are an important party in this conflict. Any meaningful solution to this conflict can only be achieved by including theses students in the process of discussion. These students at times have over stepped the limit of tolerance during their protest activities due to political influences or youthful adventurism. However, it is expected of the greatness of your “government of good governance” to look beyond these incidences and provide an equitable solution for this issue. I earnestly request you sir, to take necessary measures to resolve this issue so that our state medical faculty students can come back and continue their studies.
I wish you all success with your endeavours to provide good governance to this country.
Dr. Godwin Constantine
Senior lecturer in Medicine, University of Colombo and Cardiologist