SAITM graduates on par with those in state medical faculties - July 30, 2016

"I can assure that you that the quality of education, faculty and facilities at the South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine (SAITM) in Malabe is definitely on par with all state medical faculties in the country. SAITM graduates are on par with any graduate from the state medical faculties. They certainly are much better than some of the graduates who qualified from foreign universities ".

So said Prof. Deepthi Samarage, Head of the Dept. of Pediatrics, at a press briefing at the Neville Fernando Teaching Hospital (NFTH) in Malabe, last week. The meeting was organized by SAITM to disseminate information pertaining to the current status of the SAITM program for its MBBS students, focusing on the faculty, facilities and students, and provided an opportunity for the media to clarify issues about SAITM's MBBS program.

The discussion was followed by a brief tour of the facilities at the Dr. Neville Fernando Teaching Hospital.

"SAITM has the best of professors and teachers and facilities for the students of our MBBS program. These are children of our country who have trainedin Sri Lanka for seven years and we have taught them with utmost dedication and commitment. It's our moral responsibility and duty to ensure that they get their rightful place as doctors. We are teachers and it's not our job to delve into history and legality. That's the job of the govt. and the courts", the professor emphasized.

Samarage is a well experienced academic who served for two decades in the state sector and earlier was Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Sri Jayewardenepura.

In response to a question, the professor explained that the format followed for the final year clinical examination was the same format as is in state medical schools. Marks awarded was a consensus mark, internal and external, with the participation of professors from medical faculties of Colombo, Peradeniya, Ruhuna, senior lecturers from Peradeniya and senior consultants from the National Hospital and Kandy Hospital who are examiners for Colombo, and Peradeniya.

Vice- Chancellor, Professor Ananda Samarasekera, urged all those critiquing the legitimacy of SAITM, since its inception, to first read thoroughly all the core legal documents in connection with the establishment and current status of SAITM.

For instance, the Ministry of Higher Education, having obtained recommendations under Section 70 C of the Universities Act No.16 of 1978, and its subsequent amendments, granted recognition to SAITM to award the MBBS degree as per gazette No. 1721/19 dated 30.11.2011 for students who registered for the degree after August 30, 2011. With the Gazette No. 1829/36 dated 26.09.2013 the students enrolled from September 2009 to 2011 were also allowed to register for the MBBS degree.

In response to a question on the proposal for making SAITM a private- public partnership, Dr. Sameera Senaratne , CEO of SAITM and the Neville Fernando Teaching Hospital, pointed out that there has yet to be any formal intimation or communication by the relevant authorities.

"However, we are always openfor discussion" he said.

Tharindu Ruawanpathiranage, who passed out with the first batch of MBBS students from SAITM said that the fervent appeal of the students is to provide them with the opportunity to demonstrate their qualities as doctors in Sri Lanka."

"And then you can judge for your selves the quality of SAITM's MBBS programme" he stressed.