A Partnership for National Unity, (APNU) Member of Parliament, Annette Ferguson, joined a group of angry students who continued protest action, yesterday, against the controversial Guyana Healthcare Education Institute.
They also called for Government’s intervention into the matter of alleged fraud involving the Institute, which is owned and operated by Nanda Kissoon. Kissoon, who goes by several aliases, has been at the centre of controversy for several years.
Scarcely a year would go by without her setting up some educational facility to train nurses knowing that the institution is bogus. Over the years she has been pursuing accreditation but the National Accreditation Council of Guyana (NAC) has denied the school approval to operate.
However, despite being closed down by the Ministry of Health on numerous occasions, the school, under different names, continues to function under the management of its director Ms. Kissoon.
Back in 2009, Kissoon was arrested following complaints made by scores of students. The woman was ordered to refund students in excess of $250,000; but only some of the money was repaid. At that time, she had been operating the institute under the name Inter-American Nursing School.
According to reports, Kissoon continues to offer private courses to persons with the assurance that they would be certified in various aspects of healthcare upon completion. However the students recently discovered that their certificates were not recognized anywhere.
Yesterday angry students, who had been attending the privately owned institute, demonstrated outside the Ministry of Education Head Office Brickdam, Georgetown calling for assistance from subject Minister Priya Manickchand under whose command the NAC functions.
“We demand justice! Fraud is a crime! We want Justice!” the students shouted repeatedly as they stood outside the Ministry.
Ferguson, the Parliamentarian, said that the party is supporting the students’ call for a criminal investigation into the matter.
“For them to be defrauded of monies they paid to get a good education is totally unfair. Based on what the students said, a complaint has been filed with the police but no action has been taken. That’s why we are out here calling on the authorities to do their part to ensure that these young people get the justice that they deserve,” Ferguson said.
She said that the both the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education have a responsibility to make the public aware of the issue.
“From what we understand, it is that this individual also goes by the names Nanda or Nandranie Kissoon, Geeta Basdeo, and Joann Gray. She even changed the name of school a number of times. Unsuspecting persons can easily be tricked into believing her operations are genuine. The Ministries needs to put a joint statement warning people about this,” she added.
The operations of the Guyana Healthcare Education Institute is currently housed at an upper flat of a building located on Robb Street (next to Scotia Bank) and on Croal Street.
During another protest exercise on Tuesday, students stood in front the school’s Robb Street, Georgetown headquarters and demanded a refund of the monies they invested in the medical courses. The courses, they said cost from as little as $11,500 to as much as $95,000 per month.
This newspaper was told that the students were promised certificates which will be recognized in the Caribbean and even afford them opportunities to further their studies in the United States of America. But they later discovered that everything was fake.
“We didn’t know anything about the school issues, until recently when we started seeing stories on the news about persons who attended classes here and could not get work with their certificates. We want our money back,” a clearly frustrated Shauna Welcome said on Tuesday.
The students claimed that Kissoon refused to provide them with information to support the accreditation of the school. Kaieteur News understands that the woman has since gone into hiding.
“When we confronted her about the issue she started to act nervous. She only showed us some legal papers and called the names of some prominent Attorneys whom she said have represented her in matters relating to the accreditation. She further said that the court had ordered the NAC to grant her approval to operate,” another student had explained.
Kissoon had challenged the decision by NAC not to grant the school its approval to operate. Earlier this year, the court granted an order quashing the decision of the NAC not to renew the registration of the institute. However, that this newspaper was told that the decision was not implemented by the accreditation board, thus the institute remains uncertified.
Tthe Ministry of Education has taken note of the protest which it claimed was organized and led by known A Partnership for National Unity and People’s National Congress activists outside the Ministry of Education.
In a statement issued yesterday the ministry said that it perplexed as to why the APNU and PNC activists would grace the Ministry with their presence when the facts of the matter would show clearly that the Ministry of Education is far from being in a place where any sensible person can lay the blame for the predicament the students face at the doorstep of the Ministry.
The Ministry made it clear that the National Accreditation Council, a statutory body, denied registration to the Guyana Health Care Education Institute as an accredited institution on the ground that this institution had not met the required standards and one Ms. Nanda Kissoon, who had applied for said registration was duly informed.
The Council was startled to have received an Order of Court calling on the council to show cause why the decision not to register should not be quashed.
“Notably, it was Nigel Hughes, aspirant for the post of Prime Minister, and chairman of the AFC, who went to the Court to have Guyana Health Care Institution and Nanda Kissoon considered authentic,” the Ministry’s statement said.
According to the Ministry, Nanda Kissoon and her lawyer have gone so far as to file Contempt of Court proceedings against the relevant body and persons, threatening to incarcerate them.
The Council intends to vigorously defend these efforts by Kissoon and her lawyer. The Ministry of Education stands in solidarity with the Council.
The ministry stated that it is clear that the decisions by the Council are now vindicated by the behavior of the parties who the students are alleging scammed them.
Given that the Government of Guyana has repeatedly sounded warnings about this individual and her operations and given that the outfit against which the students are complaining is not duly registered, the Ministry of Education remains perplexed at the reason for the protest being held outside the Ministry of Education.
The Ministry of Education urged all Guyanese and particularly young people to ensure that institutions that they seek to enter are fully recognized and registered appropriately by the relevant bodies such as the National Accreditation Council.
The Ministry said that it is saddened by the plight that the victims of the alleged Health Institute/Nursing school scam suffer.
“We do urge those suffering students not to allow themselves to be used and exploited by opportunistic politicians who can offer nothing more than loud and aggressive but empty promises. The Ministry urges the opposition politicians to speak to their fellow opposition politician Mr. Nigel Hughes to ensure the students get their money back,” the statement said.
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