Exam board accuses enrolment mafia of orchestrating nurses’ protests

Karachi:August 8:As protests by aggrieved nursing students continued on Monday, the Sindh Nurses Examination Board (SNEB) has alleged that former board officials had enrolled around 100 nursing students on the basis of forged documents for which they received huge sums of money.
“Former exams controller Ghulam Sarwar Qadri illegally enrolled 100 candidates who had submitted forged documents,” incumbent SNEB exams controller Khairunnisa Akbar said while talking to The News on Monday. She urged the provincial education secretary to launch an inquiry against Qadri and his entire team in this connection.

“These candidates did not attend any nursing school in the province and, now, even the Pakistan Nursing Council (PNC) has no record of these candidates,” she said.

To hide their malpractices, she claimed, the perpetrators were provoking students who had failed their exams to stage protests against the examination board. “If they have valid concerns, the students should instead approach the exam board for scrutiny of their papers.”

Over the course of the day, a large number of nurses from various public and private nursing schools in the city, including the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre and the National Institute of Child Health’s schools, held a protest demonstration outside the Karachi Press Club for the third day.

The protesters claimed that the current exams controller and her assistant, Rajpar, had deliberately failed them and alleged that the officials had demanded money from a large number of nurses to clear their supplementary exams.

Background interviews with health experts, doctors and health department officials suggest that Sindh’s nursing system is marred with corruption as money is extorted from nursing candidates at every step of the recruitment process.

Those running nursing schools and the examination board, it seems, continue to mint millions of rupees annually by approving admissions and clearing candidates in exams.

“Admissions at public nursing schools are up for sale as the candidates receive a stipend from the provincial government. Rates of admissions skyrocketed after the provincial government recently increased the stipends from Rs6,000 to Rs15,000 per month,” an official of the health department told The News.

The official, who requested anonymity, claimed that private nursing schools existed in a large number in Sindh and they were giving admissions to candidates for money despite lacking qualified faculty and infrastructure.

“There is immense benefit of securing admission to a nursing school as candidates who would have only passed matriculation exams can then become ‘qualified’ nurses and work at both public and private hospitals,” the official said.

Khairunnisa, the current exams controller, however, alleges that the previous controller, his assistants and IT department officials were involved in such corrupt practices.

On the other hand, a number of trainees and head nurses of various nursing schools accuse her of the same, and both sides have demanded that authorities concerned take action against the other.

Health experts in the private sector also allege that health department officials were supporting the corrupt staff in the SNEB. “Without their patronage and support, the standards of nursing education could not have been destroyed by just a handful of corrupt officials,” said a senior official.

“People in the provincial health department are also responsible for corruption in the nursing sector. They were receiving money from the previous SNEB officials and now they are taking their share from the current team. The real sufferers are the poor patients who are being left at the mercy of untrained nurses at both public and private hospitals.”The news.