Saboteurs behind SAITM | Daily News

Saboteurs behind SAITM

In terms of article (2) (h) of Chapter VI under the title “Directive principles of State Policy and Fundamental Duties” of the Constitution of Sri Lanka, State is pledged to establish in Sri Lanka a Democratic Socialist Society the objective of which includes the complete eradication of literacy and the assurance to all persons of the right to universal and equal access to education at all levels. Education policy of Yahapalanaya is based on above principle.

It may be noted that State is capable to provide this service free of charge only for limited number of students who complete A/Level successfully, due to restrictions of resources and facilities available for this purpose. State is compelled to set a cutoff point on marks to be secured at A/Level for admission to medical faculties of State run universities in order to suit the capacity available at State run universities.

Access to education

As a result thousands of students who have successfully completed A/Level have been deprived of entering State run universities. In that context active participation of private sector education institutes and universities to cater for the needs of students who are so deprived of education free of charge is absolutely necessary. SAITM is one of the pioneering institute came forward to share the responsibility and the burden of the State on implementation of State Policy on education and to cater for needs of students who are deprived of higher education which includes medicine as well at State run universities due to no-fault on their part.

SAITM has been established under section 17 of BOI Law No. 04 of 1978. It is a fully pledged BOI project. It has obtained UGC approval to award MBBS Degree. It has affiliated to Russian Universities abroad where medical degrees have been recognized by SLMC subject to the condition that they should satisfy the standard imposed by SLMC for practicing medical profession in this country. In addition Minister of Health in terms of power vested with him/her in Medical Ordinance has gazette, granting approval for SAITM to conduct MBBS Degree course subject to standard set for same by SLMC.

SAITM has complied with standard set by SLMC amidst of gamut of allegations leveled against SAITM. In that process SAITM has set up its own hospital which provides facilities needed for MBBS course practical, in addition to two state run hospitals allocated on charging of fee of Rs.50,000 per student.

Contrary to all these compliances followed by SAITM, SLMC turned down application submitted by MBBS Degree holders of SAITM for registration at SLMC to enable them to practice their profession. This act of SLMC was challenged at Court of Appeal as it appears it is tantamount to gross violation of right to access to education. Judgement given by Court of Appeal ordering SLMC to get them registered has cleared the negative picture created by GMOA against SAITM.

On a random survey carried out by writer on his own it has been observed that allegations leveled against SAITM are either biased, prejudiced or false fabrication promulgated by GMOA. All of them have focused on current standard adopted by SAITM over MBBS course. If it is inadequate it is a matter for the government to intervene and regularize the standard.

If clinical practices are inadequate or insufficient, it is a matter for the Government in consultation with SLMC to provide opportunity for same at State run hospitals free of charge. GMOA has no right to stop it.

Entry qualifications required for MBBS course of SAITM on par with average entry qualifications required for the same in most of the recognized universities all over the world. Marks needed to secure at A/Level Bio-stream by students from remote areas who entered medical faculties of State run Universities under District quota system seemed below the level of marks of students entered from developed areas to follow MBBS course at SITEM. Allegation which says that students who followed A/L Commerce are also could enroll for MBBS course at SAITEM is a diabolic lie fabricated by GMOA. On our survey I found there is no iota of truth on above allegation.

Teaching staff attached to medical faculty of SAITM consists of well qualified and well experienced lecturers, Senior Lecturers, Professors who were or who are attached to medical faculties of State run Universities. In that context how can GMOA say that teaching staff attached to medical faculty of SAITM is poor in quality when compared to the teaching staff attached to medical facilities of state run Universities?

State run Universities

It has been observed that overall standard maintained in medical faculty of SAITM is far better than that of the standard maintained in some medical faculties of State run Universities. Behavioural pattern of the students attached to medical faculty of SAITM is also considered far better than that of the behaviour of students attached to medical faculties of State run Universities.

Freedom of education and free of charge education are considered two different concepts. Free of charge education is limited due to restrictions imposed by State run Universities on admission to their medical facilities. SAITM has come forward to cater for students who had become victims of restrictions so imposed by State run Universities. SAITM has cited alternative mechanism to free of charge education in which cost to be borne by parents of the students concerned. Unlike free of charge education this mechanism is not a burden to the general public.

The allegation caused by GMO that standard of medical profession would be jeopardized drastically if SITEM, MBBS Degree holders are allowed to register at SLMC seems malicious and false presumption due the fact that medical profession has already been jeopardized in the hand of GOMA. Whilst criticizing SAITM MBBS Degree course in that manner GMOA is silent over increase of malpractices and medical negligence caused by some of the members of GMOA at State run hospitals.

Those who studied at the cost of public funds and found their employments in Public Sector hospitals are reciprocally duty bound to serve general public on priority basis. Contrary to the above GMOA has driven its membership to go on a series of intermittent strikes in public hospitals over SAITM issue causing immense hardship to indigent patients who cannot afford to go to private hospitals where most of GMOA members are thriving on consultation business.

It is suggested that State can introduced new mechanism for standardizing and accreditation of MBBS courses conducted by both State run Universities as well as SAITM. This mechanism should be assigned to an independent and apex body consisting of representation from all stakeholders of health sector. Remember in this process SLMC is already prejudiced over SAITM issue.

Higher education and health

Allegations caused by GMOA against SAITM cannot be substantiated at all in view of factual position of those allegations as clarified above. Campaign launched by GMOA, has been leveled not only against SAITM, but also against Government and its policy on higher education and health. Non-compliance of Judgement given by Court of Appeal on SAITM issue unless it is challenged at Supreme Court by aggrieved party could be considered contempt of Court. If Supreme Court upheld judgement given by Court of Appeal, there will be further chaos over SAITM issue for which GMOA should hold responsibility.

GMOA has dragged student population against government over SAITM issue. It has launched further campaign to drag masses of this country as well against government over this issue which could ultimately cripple the Government. GMOA has infringed right of SAITM students to have free access to education. Its Trade Union action has caused a threat to Government which represents masses and also jeopardized education of university students.

Forgetting its boundaries and limits, GMOA has also challenged certain economic development plans and policies of the Government such as proposed Free Trade Agreements, ETCA, Taxation policies etc. which are considered out of ambit of GMOA being a trade union.

In the meantime it has also been observed that some elements who had extended their support for SAITM during past regime have been now shifted their support against SAITM, in connivance with GMOA.

In the above context it is clear that GMOA has lunched unwarranted and unjustifiable campaign against Government behind SAITM issue on the pretext of safeguarding medical profession which in reality jeopardized medical profession as well. 

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