Friday, August 18, 2017

Mandalay medical students angry over fail rate

Students dismissed from Mandalay University of Medicine have called a press conference to complain about their expulsion on the grounds of insufficient attendance at classes.

They pointed to the much higher failure rate at Mandalay than comparable institutions, claiming that 40 students failed the first year of medical degrees at Mandalay, compared to two at Magwe Medical University and a total of 11 at the two medical universities in Yangon.

About 100 students fail each year across all courses at Mandalay University of Medicine, they said.

The main reason, students say, is that those who attend less than 75 percent of classes for a subject are not allowed to sit the exam. Those who fail an exam two or three times are expelled.

However, at the press conference students said the attendance requirement did not apply to “privileged students”. They also complained that class attendance records were inaccurate and that the attendance requirement dated from colonial era and was introduced to restrict access to education.

The October 15 press conference, at Mandalay’s Datkinayama monastery in Chanmyarthasi township, near Mahamuni Pagoda, was also attended by parents of the dismissed students.

“I am a teacher, earning about K100,000 [a month], and I took a second job as a tutor to help support my son through medical university. But he was dismissed because they said his attendance rate was too low,” said Daw Swe Swe, aged about 45.

Dr Than Win, rector of Mandalay Medical University, said it was the students’ responsibility to ensure they attended class.

“Students are admitted to the university based on their matriculation exam but students have to attend at least 75pc of classes or they are not allowed to sit their exams. This is the standard attendance requirement at international universities – some even require 90pc attendance. This is made clear to students and their parents when they enter the university,” he told The Myanmar Times.

The All Burma Federation of Student Unions (Upper Myanmar) issued a statement expressing sympathy for the dismissed students and complaining about what it calls government interference in education.

But Dr Than Win denied that there was mismanagement at the university and stressed that medical education required both theoretical and clinical practice, which could only take place in class.

“We are not pleased at all that those students who got attended only 25pc or 30pc of classes say the system is unfair. Medical education is not like distance education; it includes clinical and practical training. They complained our university removed 100 students every year, but we have 3500 students.”