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To cheat and then to appeal

I'm not a health professional but I have been closely following the tale of the thousands of board passers of the June 2006 Philippine nursing licensure exams. Since the results came out alleged leakages of test questions were made by some nursing professionals. It seems that there is enough evidence of cheating to warrant the filing of charges against certain individuals. The Professional Regulatory Commission delayed the nurses' oath taking but eventually given them licenses.

Since many of the nurses would want to work in the USA, they would have to pass through American professional regulation requirements as well as immigration requirements. The US Federal Government contracts the CGFNS to screen applicants before immigration goes over their applications. This is the VisaScreen certificate that organization gives to qualified nurses. Because of the cheating allegations CGFNS believes it cannot give VisaScreens to Filipino nurses who passed the June exams.

The CGFNS believes that the June 2006 exams are compromised and because of this does not meet US licensure requirements. The CGFNS did not cast judgement on the Philippine regulatory system but on the equivalence June 2006 credentials to US credentials. The US organization requested applicants to retake the compromised tests. So the Philippine government made an appeal for CGFNS to reconsider. It did not. And once more a delegation headed by a Philippine member of Congress flew to Philadelphia to appeal once more.

This is where it becomes really pathetic. Teachers and students know that exams are just one of the tools to measure competence. But exams are not just a measure, they are important measures. We know that failure on an exam does not mean the examinee is incompetent. There are a zillion reasons why students fail exams. There are avenues to make it up. First one can retake the exam. And if one had good reasons that he/she failed the exam due to bias due to bias among the examiners, one can request for a remark of the exam or to launch an appeal.

Appeals are decided on the concept of natural justice. Cheating during exams is never a ground for an appeal especially for a foreign organization that has nothing to do how our professions are regulated. Most universities and schools have drastic penalties for cheating. Under the natural justice concept, the PRC should have severely dealt with the perpetrators of the cheating under the law. The politicking administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has a large part for the blame since it was so indecisive when it should have had the cheaters arrested and charged for a criminal offence.

Now that CGFNS would not give in. The Arroyo administration has made all arrangements for a retake and then gave a gag order until the congressional delegation arrives from the US.

Cultural dissonance? Probably, the Pinoy values of finding "lahat ng paraan" (finding all avenues for remedy) which is not in itself bad, "palusot" (alibi) which is bad since alibis never solve a problem and "awa" (pity) which is both good and bad depending in the circumstances.

I see that seeking "awa" from CGFNS is pathetic. After all they have nothing to do with the cheating scandal. The Arroyo adminstration, the PRC and that congressional delegation should seek pity from the parents who financed the education of these new nurses.

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