Say they are clinically depressed; want remedy to educational ills
Future of SAITM graduates and students uncertain
Students’ mental health deteriorating, medical assistance sought
By Skandha Gunasekara
Graduates and students of the South Asian Institution of Technology and Management (SAITM) yesterday called on the Government to provide a permanent solution to the issues faced by them due to the Government’s decision to abolish the controversial institution.
They also held the Government responsible for the poor mental state of the institution’s students who have had their education curtailed. SAITM Medical Graduates Association (SMGA) Co-Convener Dilshan Fernando, addressing a media briefing yesterday, said that the future of SAITM graduates as well as current students was uncertain as the Government had not specified as to how they were to complete their medical education after SAITM was abolished.
“The Government has decreed that SAITM would be abolished from 31 December this year. However, they have not mentioned what is to happen to the graduates and students of SAITM. The graduates have yet to do their internships while students have to complete their education.”
Fernando went on to say that Government officials had met with various groups involved in the SAITM affair but had failed to meet and discuss issues with those studying at SAITM.
“We are the most affected group in all this but no one has had discussions with us about our needs. We humbly request the Government to provide a solution to our problems as they are the ones responsible. We need to know how and where SAITM graduates will complete their internships as well as where current SAITM students will finish their medical education.”
SAITM Students Action Committee (SSAC) member Hassan Hussein said that he had applied to Sri Jayewardenepura University and was rejected but his best friend, who had been educated in Saudi Arabia, was accepted by the university.
“I did London A/Ls and achieved four As. I was eligible to study at international universities such as Cambridge but I decided to remain in my country and complete my education. However, when I applied to Sri Jayawardenepura University I was rejected but my best friend who did the same London exam in Saudi Arabia was accepted by Sri Jayawardenepura as a paid student.”
Meanwhile SMGA co-convener Tharindu Ruwanpathiranage noted that while SAITM students and graduates were stranded without a definite future career, their batch mates who had fared worse at the Advanced Level examinations had completed their education at foreign universities and were successfully practicing medicine in Sri Lanka.
“Seeing one’s batch mates practising medicine when you are stuck at home without an idea of how to move forward has a serious negative impact on the psyche of these students,” he said, adding that some students had sought medical help for depression and that the Government would be held responsible if student mental health matters took a turn for the worse.
He said neither the SMGA nor the SSAC had any problems with the change in Government policies regarding private education, but it was the Government’s duty to look after those who were directly affected by such a policy change.