C’bo Uni. Senate gives nod to cancel MD (Family Medicine) final exam provisional results

*Supreme Court grants leave to proceed in FR case
*Committee Report says dispensing OSCE exam extremely poor


Amidst allegations of irregularities in the MD (Family Medicine) final examination conducted by the Postgraduate Institute of Medicine (PGIM) in July 2013, the Senate of the Colombo University has given the go-ahead to cancel the provisional results of this key postgraduate qualification.

With the unofficial results declared null and void, the Senate, taking into consideration the findings, observations and conclusions of the report submitted by the Committee of Inquiry, has also approved the PGIM Board of Management (BOM) recommendation to conduct another examination for the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) component.

The Senate has also given the green light to the BOM to reassess the portfolio viva, appoint 10 new examiners including retired persons (over 65 years old) from service to the OSCE component and also appoint a new Chief Examiner for this examination.

It was following a "lengthy discussion" the BOM decided to implement these decisions immediately. It was also decided to call a special meeting of the Board of Study immediately to convey the findings and conclusions of the report and BOM’s decisions on this matter.

In adherence with accepted practice, after the results of this examination were referred by the examiners to the Board, they were displayed in the PGIM notice board as ‘provisional results’ pending approval by the BOM and the Senate.

Following allegations of irregularities leveled by candidates of this examination, the BOM appointed a Committee of Inquiry headed by Prof. Malkanthi Chandrasekara and comprising Prof. M. D. Lamawansa and C. Maliyadde (a Colombo University Council member) to investigate the concerns raised.

On the allegation of bias as Dr. Githanji Wanigasekara (Consultant Paediatric Neurologist) and Dr. D. Ratnayake (Consultant Dermatologist), two invited examiners were batch-mates of two candidates who passed the exam, the Committee noted that neither the Chief Examiner nor the Chairperson was aware of this.

Observing that the allegation cannot be substantiated, the Committee, however, observed the examiners should have divulged to the CE/Director, PGIM the fact they were examining their own batch mates.

It was further observed that one examiner from a University unit has been included in the panel. However, the Head/Dept. of Family Medicine, Kelaniya University, who is eligible, was not selected as an examiner as he does not attend board meetings.

Another issue that surfaced during the inquiry was that one candidate’s marks had been altered in portfolio and OSCE. This had made him pass the exam, particularly in the portfolio. Why these marks had been changed only in this particular candidate is unclear, it was further noted.

On assessment of portfolio of learning, the Committee report observed serious lapses in adhering to standard practice. Examiners had not been approved by BOM. One examiner not eligible to be even a trainer had been put as an examiner at the last minute.

On OSCE, the report says this was the component with the highest number of failures. The dispensing of the examination had been extremely poor. It was extremely difficult to quantify the effect of this on the results.

On Dissertation of Viva, it noted that as the presentation of the first candidate was poor, others were not asked to make presentations. The fact that most candidates passed this exam does not make the practice adopted to justify the way the exam was dispensed.

On alteration of marks, the report observed that in one of the candidates, marks had been altered significantly and the candidate is a batch mate of examiner/s.

The BOM has appointed the same Committee to investigate the allegation of changing marks of one candidate at this examination.

Incidentally, the Supreme Court last week granted leave to proceed in a Fundamental Rights (FR) application filed by seven doctors alleging irregularities in the MD examination and seeking interim relief against the PGIM.

Of the 11 doctors who sat the examination, only four had passed, according to the unconfirmed results, the petition filed by Attorney-at-Law G. G. Arulpragasam stated.

The petitioners are Dr. D. L. S. Munasinghe, Dr. K. H. D. Milroy, Dr. D. J. H. Gunasekara, Dr. W. G. P. Gunawardhana, Dr. C. M. A. Anthony, Dr. M. U. K. Galhena and Dr. M. G. T. Fernando.

Amongst the respondents cited are the PGIM Board of Management, the Board of Study in Family Medicine and the two doctors whose marks were allegedly changed to achieve the pass mark.

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