– Health Ministers visit to lend moral support
Nursing students, whose results were affected following allegations of the leaked Professional Nurses State Final examination which was conducted in October of last year, were finally able to re-sit their exam yesterday.
The test was conducted at the Critchlow Labour College in Woolford Avenue, Georgetown.
Senior Minister of Public Health, Ms. Volda Lawrence, at a press conference earlier this month had said that, based on the advice of the Nursing Council, approximately 150 students were slated to participate in Paper One of the Clinical and Functional examination.
Ahead of the sitting yesterday, students were graced with a visit from Minister Lawrence and Minister within the Public Health Ministry, Dr. Karen Cummings.
When Ministers Lawrence and Cummings made the surprise visit to the examination centre, they both affirmed their confidence in the integrity of the freshly prepared examination and the intellectual uprightness of the students.
“We know you will have good success, we are here to give you moral and spiritual support and we have full confidence in you,” Minister Lawrence told the group of student nurses.
The students from four nursing establishments, representing the counties of Demerara and Berbice, were forced to retake the exams following the discovery of a breach after the State Finals last year.
The Guyana Nursing Council’s investigations later confirmed the breach and eventually steps were taken to have the students re-sit the exams. It was the first time that the Council has had to deal with a breach of its examinations.
The breach, which is reportedly still gaining the attention of the Police Force, was brought to the attention of the Public Health Ministry through an anonymous tip.
While nursing students have denied involvement in the exams violation, it has been confirmed that an undisclosed number of students from the Georgetown School of Nursing were in possession of the leaked exam papers.
Nursing students, while being relieved that the exam was finally being re-written, expressed their concerns in the way the system operates.
“Although we are very pleased to be putting this behind us, we can only hope that something of this magnitude doesn’t happen again and if it does, that the relevant authorities reprimand the schools or regions that the leak took place,” the students stated.
The authorities are of the belief that the breach originated in the Nursing Council.
Moreover, Minister Lawrence said that she is desirous of having the Council hold talks with local and regional examinations bodies to get fresh insights into their overall responsibility, especially how to deal with the issue of security of examination papers.
Among the examination bodies were the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) and Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) – to help find a way to improve the scholastic abilities of nursing students. “We have nothing to hide. We want the best for our students,” Minister Lawrence recently said.
She also stressed the need for firmer security consciousness, clearer guidelines for the Council, an enhanced marking scheme and outsourcing the grading of students’ examination scripts – all of which are likely to characterise the future of the nursing programme.
The State Finals in October of last year saw a total of 250 nursing students participating.
Minister Lawrence had disclosed that while the Nursing Council was tasked with providing tutoring sessions for the nursing students who registered for the re-sit, the Ministry of Education was given the responsibility to prepare the actual examination.
It is expected that the results of the examination will be presented to the Public Health Ministry by next week and the declaration of the results will be done no later than March 2, 2017.
It is believed that those involved in the leaked examination might have earned thousands of dollars from the illegality.
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