Education was taken over by the State by privatization of schools in the name of free education, a political decision, considered a good move to make free education available to all citizens.
A grievous mistake was made by making the medium of education Sinhala Only. Dropping English converted the country into a Third World within a few years. The country is still struggling to get over the backlash. We as Ceylon were economically ahead of all countries in Asia other than Japan at that time. Our neighbour India continued English education and now they have overtaken Sri Lanka in IT and many other fields.
Our English in the past was better than in English Speaking Countries. We have now gone to the extent of suggesting importing teachers of English from India. Sometime ago we had a programme funded by England / Australia to train Teachers to Teach English when current Prime Minister was Minister of Education.
After the mistake was realized, the same government that took over private schools was compelled to allow private schools. Restriction being placed that GCE examinations be conducted as London General Certification of Education, subjects in English.
Many private schools in the English Medium sprung up all over the country. Some with high quality, some below quality but students sat a common London GCE examination.
Many private schools in the English Medium sprung up all over the country. Some with high quality, some below quality but students sat a common London GCE examination. No private school in Sinhala Medium has started. Parents and Investors realized the value of English Education. All these schools educated students to sit for the London GCE Examination. GCE standards was set by the University of London International Examinations Department. The GCE Sri Lanka standard was set by the Department of Examinations.
Now the opportunity is given to students to sit for the Sri Lanka GCE Examinations in English. Private schools as well as State schools are gradually starting classes for Sri Lanka GCE English Medium. Obstacle being, the lack of Teachers who are able to teach in English as they have been educated in Sinhala. This is one country where State Education is considered superior to Private Education as the demand to enter State schools and State universities is far greater than available capacity. For the good fortune of the students of the country Private Schools as well as Degree awarding Private Colleges affiliated to numerous Colleges / Universities overseas were allowed to be operated in the country. Yet approximately Three to Four Thousand students of affluent parents leave the country each year for higher education to overseas universities of G7 Countries and some to less developed countries who offer recognized degrees affiliated to G7 Universities in high profile professions. Very few of these students come back to paradise. A brain drain of affluent students encouraged by governments in power since 1960.
Now we come to the debate of Private Medical Education. Should State be the Only Educator and Graduator in Medicine in Sri Lanka? Then all Doctors who have obtained their Medical Degrees oversees, should be disqualified from practicing in Sri Lanka although they have passed the Eligibility Requirement to Practice Medicine ERPM Examination conducted by Government of Sri Lanka as the Degree has not been awarded by Government of Sri Lanka Medical Colleges. Approximately 1000 Foreign Qualified Graduates from Universities outside of Sri Lanka sit ERPM conducted by GoSL. The pass rate is 25 – 30%. The quality of these Foreign Universities is so poor although Government has recognized these Universities as suitable for Medical Degrees. Male Graduates who attend Medical Colleges in countries where Islam is practiced are Not given opportunity to treat females or touch a female during Clinical but they have Graduated as MBBS, passed ERPM and practice medicine in Sri Lanka. There are many who call themselves Doctors in Business and Other Professions as they could not pass ERPM.
The Kotalawala Defence Academy Medical Faculty although Fee Leaving does not fall in to a Private Degree awarding Medical College as it is owned by the State and the Number of Students are 25 – 30 per batch. This gives them better opportunity to interact with the Faculty.
A quick fix for the current crisis at the Malabe Private Medical College as well as Medical Colleges to be set up in future would be for Medical Students of all Faculties to sit for the same examination conducted by the State Medical Colleges as done for Sri Lanka GCE OL/AL.
Immediate action be taken to adjust, curriculum of the Malabe Medical Faculty to be compatible to Defense Academy Medical College as the Teaching Faculty of both colleges are Retired State University Practitioners and Lecturers.
A cut off mark be set by Government as done for Entrance to State Colleges for Entrance to Private Colleges according to number of seats available in Private Medical Colleges to ensure that students with high marks follow the Degree and Not Duds with Money that are allowed follow the Degree.
As per GMOA and Students Unions they object to Medical Degree being awarded by the Malabe Medical College stating the degree is not in par with standards. Or is there jealousy that some of the students in Private Medical Education are from International Schools who have had their Education in English and sat for London GCE Advanced Level Examination.
Has GMOA or Students Unions specified the standard, or offered a solution other than objecting to the functioning of the Private Medical College and Award of Degree.
Once the standard is specified by the Government. All Doctors in practice who do not meet this standard must be compelled to meet the specified standard or resign from service. As per GMOA and Students Unions, we cannot have two standards and rules in the same playing field.
By this method a common MBBS Degree can be awarded by Malabe / Kotalawala and any other Private Medical Colleges to be set up.
A cut off mark be set by the Govt as done for Entrance to State Colleges for Entrance to Private Colleges according to number of seats available in Private Medical Colleges to ensure that students with high marks follow the Degree and Not Duds with Money
Another big question is, Does Sri Lanka need this many doctors?.
Approximately 1200 doctors pass out of the medical system each year. If the per capita Doctor / Population ratio is studied. Sri Lanka compares well with the developed world but Doctors are not available in the required rural areas. Most of the MBBS Doctors have not obtained Post Graduate Qualifications and Specialized. Those who have specialized try to concentrate in the big cities where private practice is rampant and educational facilities for their children are available. The poor farmer or those living in rural areas do not have a Doctor for many, many Kms or population ratio. It must be made mandatory for a Doctor qualifying from a rural area, serve the said area for a minimum of five years before being eligible to serve in another area. There should be a good appointment and transfer scheme to ensure Doctors serve at least ten years in rural areas. Government must ensure the facilities in rural hospitals be improved and family accommodation provided in all Rural Hospitals for Doctors and Secondary Staff. Kolambata Kiri Gamata Kakiri is rampant in the Medical Service. The not so well to do have to travel all the way to Colombo and other big cities in the early hours of the morning to receive treatment in General / Base Hospitals. This is highlighted by Media whenever there is a work stoppage by Doctors.
The wise move would be to improve the facilities of the existing Medical Colleges. Colombo Medical College was ranked amongst the World Best up to about 1970. Set up Research Facilities in Medical Facilities. We have many deceases endemic to Sri Lanka. Research could be done to find solutions for these. We are to import Anti Dengue products from Australia. Our Scientists are doing great in developed countries. Why cannot we do it here. It is quality of the medical service that matters not quantity. There were no work stoppages by the Medical Profession and Medical Students when they were of quality. Medicine was a profession. Now there is no difference between Doctors and Bus Conductors.
At the rate that Sri Lanka is producing doctors, there will not be capacity to offer internship in Government Hospitals. There will not be vacancies in the Government Medical Service to offer jobs for doctors. If Protests Vs Loss to the economy if calculated, the government could have improved the health services ten fold. Eventually it is the people who suffer not Malabe Medical College, GMOA or Student Union. Students who boycott lectures and their parents need to realize that it is they that suffer the loss and not those who incite boycotts and protests.
If a serious calculation is done on loss to State, public life, disruption of services to the public, damage to property will run to billions. Can this loss to economy be recovered from those who encourage disruption of services, incite work stoppage, damage property. 99% of the population pay for the loss caused by less than 1% of the population. It is very strange to see Buddhist Priests in the protest march of medical students. These are the persons that should be arrested, charges filed and put in jail. The Most Venerable Mahanayakas will stand by Justice. Our judicial system is so slow, it will be another burden on the public
Those who are against Private Medical Education will have to give serious thought with respect to loss to the economy. With this low quality of mentality of the educated and to be educated.