They are said to have taken pictures of the question papers, sent them to an external collaborator who answered them and then sent the answers back to the students in the examination hall via whatsapp.
The college has been de-recognised by the Nurses and Midwives Council (NMC) as an examination centre for three years while the students will not be permitted to write the licensing examination for two consecutive times.
According to Mr. Felix Nyante, the Registrar of the NMC, the students were found to have cheated in the examination hall after the mobile phone one of them had smuggled into the examination hall had fallen from her panties onto the floor of the hall.
He said the decision of the Council to sanction the students was based on the fact that they flouted the NMC’s rules, which included “bringing foreign materials into the examination hall, collusion and mass cheating”.
Eighty-nine students sat for the August 2014 Registered General Nursing (RGN) Licensing Examination.
However, the results of 33 students have been released, after they had been absolved of any wrongdoing in the conduct of the examination.
A copy of the NMC report on examination malpractice at the Holy Family Nursing and Midwifery Training College, signed by Mr. Nyante and made available to the Daily Graphic, said after the chief invigilator had provided photographic evidence of correspondence between the students and an external collaborator, a team of consultants were tasked to investigate and ascertain the extent to which the candidates involved benefitted.
“The consultants made the following findings: A whatsapp platform was set up for the purpose of cheating during the August 2014 RGN Licensure Examination.... It was clear from the resources provided for this investigation and our analyses that candidates were able to enter the examination room with phones with which they took pictures of pages of question papers and received whatsapp feedback,” it said.
In addition, the report, among other things, said the candidates, who benefitted from the whatsapp activity, received help from outside the examination room, and that key among those who provided the help were people with names or code names such as Quophi Ferty, Killer, Ma Florence.
Following the consultants’ recommendations, the matter was reported to the Examination Subcommittee of the Governing Board of the NMC on December 3, 2014 for consideration.
At an emergency governing board meeting on December 9, 2014, “the board analysed the consultants’ report and resolved that adequate evidence exists to prove that some candidates of the NMTC, Berekum, engaged in examination malpractice... the consultants’ report was, therefore, ratified by the board”.
However, the board decided that, in accordance with the principle of natural justice, an opportunity be given to the candidates to tell their side of the story, the report said.
A meeting was, therefore, held at the Osu Ebenezer Presby Hall in Accra on December 18, 2014 for the candidates to be heard.
“At the meeting, evidence gathered from the whatsapp platform that was created for the examination malpractice was shown to the candidates for scrutiny. This was followed by a general question regarding what each candidate knew about the evidence provided.
“Initially, majority of them feigned ignorance about the evidence provided. However, upon further probing, they changed their stance, with the explanation that they did not understand the question,” the report said.
According to the report, “Mr. Appiah and Ms. Saudatu, who had earlier confessed their culpability, owned up. Other candidates also declared their involvement in receiving help from the whatsapp platform during the examination”.
To deal with the problem of students smuggling phones into examination halls in their underwear and panties, Mr Nyante said the council had acquired a metal detector which would be used to screen the students adequately, “since our invigilators cannot put their hands everywhere for fear of being accused of sexual harassment”.