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Faxed paper holds key

Faxed paper holds key
by Francis Earl A. Cueto, Researcher

The owner of a review center where test questions for the nursing board examinations were allegedly leaked admitted on Tuesday that the center allowed the circulation of an 18-page manuscript to its students a day before the exams in June.

In a press briefing, Prof. Ray Gapuz, founder of the R.A. Gapuz review center, said he approved the dissemination of the manuscript faxed to his office by a student.

Gapuz said that as a policy, the center allows students to volunteer new materials to be included in the review as long as they get his permission first.

He recalled a time when similar material was submitted, but the students only got “sidetracked” because it was not included in the exams.

The Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) admitted last week that test questions had indeed been leaked and announced that two members of the Nursing Board were facing an inquiry.

Gapuz said students get review materials from friends in other centers.
“The thing is, other students enroll in different review centers and they share materials. Here we have a policy that they should first ask permission if the materials can be read or distributed or not,” he said.

Stressing that his center never engaged in any cheating, Gapuz said it was possible the leaked questions could have come from rival review centers.

He said, however, that he merely browsed through the bullet points in the faxed manuscript and did not bother to make a thorough evaluation before approving it.

“I did not go through the nitty-gritty of things, because I was having my class on the tenth of June in Manila when I received a fax coursed through my staff asking me to evaluate the paper if it is worth being read by the students in Baguio,” Gapuz said.

“I browsed through it [manuscript] and asked if the students wanted a copy they could go ahead and read it and use it for reference. So this is a choice of the students who want to have a copy or not,” he said.

Ninety-two examinees first filed a complaint about the leakage with the PRC. A total of 425 members of the Philippine Nurses’ Association have since joined them, asking the PRC to hold the release of the results of the examination until a thorough investigation has been made.

The results of the exams, held on June 11 and 12, have not been released. Last week the complainants said the review center distributed answers to exam questions called “emergency drills” the night before the exams.

Gapuz has 16 review centers nationwide.

Last week the PRC said it was considering annulling the results and holding new exams.
But a ranking officer of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) said on Tuesday that letting the examinees retake the tests will “not be a logical thing to do.”

CHED Commissioner Dr. Nona Ricaforte said the PRC should simply think of the questionnaires as a “bonus” to the examinees.

“The students and the parents should not be penalized for the leakage. If the test is retaken, you can just imagine the cost and the effort of the students. This will also cost the government a huge sum,’’ said Ricaforte, adding that her statement is not the position of the entire commission.

“I sympathize with the students because some of them have already schedules of going abroad,’’ she added.

Ricaforte said, however, she is not preempting the PRC investigation.

“These are just my personal views. Once they are able to pinpoint the three questionnaires and who the culprit is—they can stop and learn from there rather than jeopardize the parents and the students. This will also help even the schools,’’ she noted.

Gapuz echoed the sentiments of Ricaforte. “It would be burdensome for the parents to spend anew for tuition and allowances and for the graduates for time they will have to redo,” he said.
Jose Dino, president of the Philippine National Association of School Security Organization, said the students should not be blamed for the errors committed by the PRC officials.

“It’s most unfair for the PRC to order nursing students to repeat the exam out of security lapses on their part. Government authorities like the National Bureau of Investigation must conduct and put to jail the PRC employees responsible,’’ Dino said.

He said that while the CHED has nothing to do with the controversy, it must also investigate higher education officials involved in the leakage.

The Philippine Overseas Employment Agency also expressed fear that the issue will affect not just Filipino nurses going abroad but other skilled workers in the country.

The Manila Times

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