GEORGETOWN, Guyana, MOPH – PUBLIC Health Minister Mrs. Volda Lawrence and Minister within the Public Health Ministry Dr Karen Cummings made a surprise visit to Nursing students Tuesday minutes before some 250 of them re-sat the state exams.
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 two-day Clinical and Functional tests in October 2016.
Following an anonymous tip, the Guyana Nursing Council investigations later confirmed the breach and later took steps to have the students re-sit the exams.
It was the first time the Council has had to deal with a known breach of its examinations and the resit became necessary because of its unwillingness to register “dishonest professionals” a member said.
The Guyana Police Force is currently continuing its investigations in the leak of the professional examinations papers which were reportedly sold to students to the tune of some G$180,000 (US$900).
The Police are still seeking the help of a person of interest who is reportedly overseas before they wrap up their probe into the leak.
When Ministers Lawrence and Cummings made the unexpected visit to the examination centre, the Critchlow Labour College (CLC) on Woolford Avenue in the capital, both reaffirmed their confidence in the integrity of the tests and the intelligence of the students.
“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.
“We know you will have good success. Believe in yourselves,” Minister Cummings encouraged the batch.
Both Lawrence and Cummings are relieved that the exams are finally being re-written after some five months of uncertainty experienced by the students.
Their Tuesday visit brought “closure to this fiasco” Dr Cummings said.
Those who re-wrote the nursing exams were students from the Georgetown School of Nursing; the Charles Roza School of Nursing (Linden); the New Amsterdam School of Nursing, and the privately-operated St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Georgetown.
While students from the four institutions have all denied involvement in the exams violation, it has been confirmed that an undisclosed number of students from the Georgetown School of Nursing was in possession of the leaked document.
The authorities are confident too, that the breach originated in the Nursing Council.
Lawrence wants the Council to 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 a broad range proposals floated for consideration by the Nursing Council is the involvement of the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) which sets the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) and Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations (CAPE) tests; dialogue with the University of Guyana (UG) and collaboration with the National Centre for Educational Resource Development (NCERD) an arm of the Ministry of Education, to help “find a way to improve the scholastic abilities of our nursing students,” Lawrence said.
Security consciousness, clearer guidelines for the Council, an enhanced marking scheme and outsourcing the grading of students’ examination scripts are likely to characterise the future of the nursing programme.
“We have nothing to hide. We want the best for our students,” Minister Lawrence recently said.