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80 nursing schools face closure for low passing rate

Nurses at work are seen in AFP file photo. Experts blamed the glut in nursing schools---without the requisite base hospital, enough trained teachers, among others---for the low passing rate of nursing graduates in licensure tests conducted by the government.
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA, Philippines - Eighty more nursing schools are facing possible closure of their degree programs after obtaining low passing rates in the licensure examinations administered by the Professional Regulatory Commission (PRC), a Commission on Higher Education (CHED) official said Monday.

Overall, the decline in the national passing rate has alarmed authorities, who note that just a third of nursing school graduates in the country pass board examinations.

“These 80 schools are in danger of having their degree programs closed because their passing rate in licensure exams is really quite low,” CHED Executive Director Julito Vitriolo told the Kapihan sa Diamond Hotel.

The schools in question failed to improve their passing rate for three consecutive years now in the PRC-administered examinations, Vitriolo said, but he refused to divulge the names of the schools, located in Metro Manila and the provinces.

Besides low passing rates, the schools also failed to meet government regulations on the quality of their faculty and facilities.

Vitriolo also disclosed that 20 nursing schools have already voluntarily phased out their degree programs for the same offense, but they will be allowed to reopen their courses if they comply with government regulations.

Education experts earlier blamed the glut in nursing schools in the country for the low passing rates. The Commission said nursing schools now number 491 from just 128 in 1991; and many of them do not have the required base hospitals, laboratories, libraries and qualified faculty members.

Earlier, CHED Chairperson Dr. Patricia Licuanan said the crackdown on sub-standard higher education institutions is part of the effort to boost the quality of tertiary education in the country.

When Licuanan was appointed to the post in 2010, President Benigno Aquino III had described CHED as sleeping on the job and directed her to address all issues hounding the higher education sector, particularly in nursing education.

The PRC earlier expressed concern over the low passing rate in the nursing licensure examinations. In the December 2011 board exam, the passing rate of 33.92 percent was even lower than December 2010’s 35.25 percent, which CHED earlier tagged the lowest in history.

Only 22,760 of the 67,095 who took last December’s exam passed. The low percentage of passers reflects the large number of poor-performing nursing schools, according to authorities.

From 2000 to 2010, schools have produced some 2 million nursing students, but many failed in the board exams. The Alliance of Young Nurse Leaders and Advocates claimed that about 200, 000 nurses are jobless while the PRC said the figure is a little below 300, 000.

The CHED and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) have repeatedly urged incoming college students to enrol in courses other than nursing, considering that it is already one of the five “oversubscribed” courses. The others are Teacher Education, Information Technology, Business Administration and Hotel and Restaurant Management.