Comments /1418 Views / Saturday, 18 February 2017 00:00
From left: Committee Member Anura Wanigasooriya, Treasurer W.P. Samarakoon, Secretary Anura Dhanaratna, Private Medical College Parents’ Society President P.M.B.K. Tennakoon and SAITM Professor of Surgery Prof. Neville Perera
Convening a press conference, the Private Medical College Parents’ Society appealed to all stakeholders involved in the South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine (SAITM) issue to not jeopardise the future of students but to cooperate and peacefully resolve any concerns.
The Private Medical College Parents’ Society is a registered legal body consisting of over 300 eminent professionals formed with an objective of promoting and safeguarding the interests of private medical education in Sri Lanka.
SAITM Professor of Surgery Prof. Neville Perera, commending the standards at SAITM, said: “SAITM is on par with any other university in Sri Lanka. Having taught Government medical students for over a decade, I can confidently say that those students who passed the MBBS degree at SAITM will be a clinically-sound batch of medical graduates who will become competent doctors.”
Presenting concerns of behalf of the parents and children who are SAITM students and graduates, the Society earnestly urged that students not be victimised having gone through and passed the gruelling examination processes but instead allowed to pursue their right to become doctors and serve the nation.
Parents’ Society President P.M.B.K. Tennakoon said: “SAITM began in 2009. These students are citizens of this country who chose to complete their education in a home-grown private medical school. To overcome the highlighted shortcomings we request the Government and the Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC) to help develop the institute. Agitating and creating protests is setting a dangerous precedent and a hindrance to the right to education in Sri Lanka.”
The Parents’ Society has also submitted a letter to President Maithripala Sirisena requesting a meeting to present their views regarding the SAITM issue and private medical education in Sri Lanka. Hoping to find a solution to this crisis, President Sirisena will appoint a special panel to consult all parties and advise the Government on decisions pertaining to SAITM.
Parents’ Society Secretary Anura Dhanaratna, asserting the legality of SAITM MBBS degrees, noted: “On 31 January, the second highest court in the country – the Court of Appeal – observed that an MBBS graduate student of SAITM had the legal right to be provisionally registered by the SLMC on the basis that these students had fulfilled the necessary requirements laid down by the Medical Ordinance. If the SLMC challenges this ruling, they may face a charge of Contempt of Court.”
“We are deeply appreciative of the Government’s efforts to resolve this crisis. We have no objection to SAITM students sitting for any exam provided the State sector medical students also sit for the same exam. We cannot agree to an exam for SAITM students only as this is unprecedented anywhere in the world. We are also against the view that new students should not able to enrol at SAITM until this issue is over,” stated Parents’ Society Treasurer W.P. Samarakoon.
Emphasising the need for more private medicine colleges to operate in Sri Lanka, the Parents’ Society drew examples from the region where in most countries there are more private medical colleges than state medical faculties.
Observing that such a trend could take place in Sri Lanka, the Parents’ Society called for an unbiased authority to regulate these colleges to ensure high standards of medical education in the country.
The Parents’ Society reiterates that SAITM was established with the approval and in compliance with Government regulations. The right to medical education should be open to all and not limited to only the Government sector, saving the country from the much-needed foreign currency drain and helping to negate the scarcity of doctors in the country.
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