The young unsuspecting students of the Inter-American Nursing School who were lured into allegedly fraudulent nursing programmes by Nalini Budram, head of that institution were yesterday invited to a press briefing by Minister of Health Dr. Leslie Ramsammy to discuss the way forward.
Meanwhile the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has advised the police to conduct further investigations into the bogus nursing school, a senior police officer said on Friday.
The officer told Stabroek News when contacted that following the arrest of the alleged mastermind on Tuesday, a file was prepared and sent to the DPP for advice. However it came back with instructions for further investigations and as such the woman was on Thursday released on $100, 000 bail.
Ramsammy explained at his press briefing yesterday that it was because of the opportunities within the health sector coupled with its rapid growth and development that many young people are desirous of being a part of it. He pointed out, however, that a person’s level of qualification plays a major role in acquiring white-collar positions within this sector.
But with the frustration of the students and the question of what next, several alternative programmes, both medical and non-medical are being examined to ascertain according to qualification, the areas these students can be accommodated under.
Minister of Labour Manzoor Nadir, who was also present at the press briefing, spoke of the National Training Project for Youth Empowerment. This project, he noted, is aimed at training young people in various fields and caters for remedial academic subjects such as Math and English.
As for the monies invested by the students while at the Inter-American Nursing School, Nadir told them that there is nothing that the Ministry of Labour can do to help, though some students have been refunded by the head of the school. Nadir told them to “chalk it up to experience” and move on.
Some of the alternative training programmes to which the students can apply based on their level of qualification are: community health worker, Plaster of Paris technician, pharmacist, pharmacy assistance, nurse aid and the nursing room assistance. Among some of the non-medical programmes are: electrician, heavy machinery operators, technician etc.
Ramsammy has indicated to the students that his ministry will try to help each of them in one way or the other but cautioned them that after training, there is no guarantee or safeguard of a job waiting for them because of the competition that they will be going up against when compared to a person who may be more qualified than they are.
The students have been invited again to meet Ramsammy and other personnel on February 14 to look at possible programmes they can tap into based on their qualifications.
Stabroek News learnt on Friday that the woman’s real name is Nalini Budhram and not Nandranie Kissoon as was being reported in the press.
A senior police officer said that the woman had given investigators two names, Kissoon and Nikita Basdeo.
When Stabroek News visited the woman’s Eccles home, no one appeared to be there. A resident said he had not seen the woman for quite a while but had noticed her husband a few days ago. He added that the woman’s brother-in-law is a doctor and he had heard that she owned a business in Cummings Street but did not know what it was.
On Friday, another batch of students were relieved to be refunded the money they had paid for the nursing programme.
Others left empty-handed as all the money had finished, but were told to return to Lot 6J Duncan Street, where this newspaper understands the woman’s parents reside, When this newspaper arrived there were at least 15 students standing in the yard, and others who had already received their money were standing around.
An elderly woman subsequently appeared in a garage area which was enclosed with a padlocked grill door, with several white envelopes with names written on them, in hand.
Stabroek News was told by the students that she was Budhram’s mother.
Students subsequently signed a book after they had collected their cash from which the cost of the text books given to them was deducted.
When asked where her daughter was, she responded “man why you asking about that for. You come to collect your money. Collect it and go your way”.
This newspaper was told by the students that the woman, who looked tired and could hardly move, told them that her daughter was upstairs.
After the woman, announced that the envelopes in her hand were the last she would be sharing since there was no cash, some started to protest.
“I am asking everybody peacefully to come back on Monday. Y’all gon get back y’all money man… This was not a fraud, my daughter got all her certificates and documents at the police station,” the woman was heard saying.
The scam was revealed by Ramsammy at a press conference last Saturday, at which he had threatened to go to the police over the unaccredited nursing school which was being operated from a building at Cummings Street, Georgetown.
He had described the school named Inter American Nursing School as “a skilful little operation” that was posing as legitimate and duping young people across the country.
Kissoon has over the years been implicated in a number of medical scams but was never charged.
Based on students’ reports the school was established some time in early August last year and all the courses were expected to run for a six-month period. Many students said they learnt of the school via television and newspaper advertisements.