We Will Set Up Two More Pvt. Medical Schools
Higher Education Minister S. B. Dissanayake

Source : http://www.island.lk, By Rohan Abeywardana

If we take an example one of the biggest headaches of the recent past was the science faculty of the Sri Jayewardenepura University. But recently they held a talent show at the Nelum Pokuna spending about Rs2.1 million. They were trained by reputed artistes. Though it was restricted to students of the science faculty of Jaewardenepura, the standard was unbelievable. The required funds were raised primarily by students themselves. I too was given a special award for my assistance.

Outspoken Higher Education Minister S.B. Dissanayake, who got into trouble even with the Supreme Court and was incarcerated for contempt of court says he is now a changed man at the age of sixty only interested in doing good things like attending to religious practices, but because of his tough stand the universities the hot beds of rebellion for decades are once again places of learning. Even in establishing private universities his resilience against all odds is appearing to pay real dividends with the opening of a ultra-modern 1002 bed teaching hospital soon for the private medical college at Malabe. He answered a range of questions, including his chance of contesting the 2010 presidential election being sabotaged by the party leadership.

Q: You have staked your reputation on establishing private universities in the country in parallel with state universities, but when a Lankan entrepreneur invested virtually all his wealth to undertake a billion rupees plus private medical college, on a technicality the fate of its first four batches are now hanging in the balance. Those children and their parents are now facing a real dilemma not due to their fault. Why cannot they be given recognition at least on humanitarian grounds?

A: We have already recognized the Malabe medical faculty. It has been granted the right to award MBBS degree and enrolment to the College is according to criteria laid down by the University Grants Commission. But there is a small problem over its first four batches as they started their study programme in partnership with a Russian state university. So technically they have to go to Russia and complete there degree. Since from the fifth batch it has got local recognition, those children in the first four batches too would like to complete there degrees here. So there is a small hitch there.
Critics may make all types of allegations, but its 1002 bed ultra modern hospital will now be opened in a few months and put to shame many of those critics.
Despite all the mud slinging, even for its latest batch they have taken about 200 children out of some 400 applicants. In its batches you find about 200 London A’ Level qualified students, 69 children of doctors, and 41 foreign students. I know that the GMOA and some students from state medical faculties are clamouring against it. But there is going to be two more private medical colleges, one in Kandy and the other in Katunayake. No one can stop them. During my tenure so far we have already brought in 17 foreign universities as a result there are 34 universities functioning in the country.

Q: As in the case of the North Colombo Medical College in the mid 80s, this has become a grudge battle for some. Even if those children pass the Russian degree and come back what is the guarantee their degree will be recognized here given the fact even the Sri Lanka Medical Council has shown its opposition to it?

A: SLMC Secretary who has objected to it will have to retire soon. He is about 69. He has been asked to go by the Minister twice so he will have to go. Recently I took up the issue with the SLMC Chairman Prof. Carlo Fonseka and he was of the opinion that if the Russian University can certify the results of those students as up to required standard then there would be no problem in them being accepted here. Even the Vice Chancellor of the Russian University came to see me recently. He also met Health Minister Maithreepala Sirisena. The children in first four batches along with their parents are clamouring for the same recognition given from the fifth batch. So there is a small issue there. The problem is we cannot give that quality assurance certificate about their study programme. If Russia gives that and the SLMC accepts it there will be no problem. As far as I see it there won’t be any problem for those students.
See how unjust those protests are. Among the state medical students are those who gained admission with two Ss and one C from Mannar, but in Colombo a student with two As and a C cannot get entry into a medical faculty. In Kandy even three Bs cannot enter a medical college. Under the intake system 50 per cent get in with top marks, while the balance 50 per cent enter through the district quota. As a result a large number of students with high marks are shut out of state medical faculties. So what is wrong with such student with money entering a private medical college? The private medical college also gives some scholarships to deserving students. Many of the students who have got into the private medical college are in fact better than the 50 per cent that get in through the district quota system.
Although the GMOA opposes the private medical college, all as students attended private tuition classes and once they passed out they have no qualms about doing private practice. While Jaffna, Rajarata, and Batticaloa medical faculties were facing a grave shortage of professors, which is a big problem, the Malabe college has no such problem, as even retired and those on sabbatical leave are teaching there.