The Health and Other Service Personnel Trade Union of SA has been granted a court order instructing the SA Nursing Council to postpone the bridging course examinations that were scheduled for 28 and 30 June 2017, while the nursing union has slammed the voiding of May exams, which will now have to be rewritten.
The union said in a Polity report that it welcomes the order as it will give learners an extra time to prepare while the council concludes its investigations into the leaked exam papers.
Hospersa has been granted a court order effectively postponing the council’s examinations of the bridging course for enrolled nurses that were scheduled this week. The court order instructs the council to postpone the examinations to 19 and 21 July 2017.
“Hospersa welcomes the court order instructing the council to postpone these examinations. We took a decision to take the matter to the high court as the best available avenue to stop these examinations from taking place this week, which would have given an unreasonable time for learners to prepare,” said Hospersa general secretary Noel Desfontaines
“We understand the concerns of the students in re-writing an exam and the frustrations experienced during this debacle,” said Desfontaines. “We also understand the council’s concerns on ensuring the attainment of credible examination result and trust that the Council will complete its investigation and bring the culprits to book,” added Desfontaines.
“The court order’s decision will afford students an extra time to prepare and to engage with employers for study leave while the council concludes its investigations,” concluded Desfontaines.
South Africa’s largest nursing union had hit back at SANC’s cancellation of the exams‚ calling the move ill-conceived and inconvenient. The Times reports that on 12 June‚ the council announced the cancellation of first and second-year examinations written in May‚ pertaining to a bridging course that allows successful enrolled students to register as professional general or psychiatric nurses. This was after the regulatory body learnt that some students had had access to the exam papers prior to writing.
Denosa’s legal representatives wrote to the council demanding that it reverse its decision to cancel the exams.
The union also called on all its structures to mobilise members and student nurses to ensure no student complies with the “all-punishing and unfair circular” by rewriting exams that thousands of students have already written‚ saying that would be covering up for the council’s inefficiencies as a regulatory body.
Denosa spokesperson Sibongiseni Delihlazo said in the report that although the union supported the council’s investigation‚ it was critical for the council to conclude the investigation before setting new dates for the examination. “This decision is creating an inconvenience for institutions and the co-ordination of their study period will be severely interrupted for something that was not of their own doing‚” Delihlazo said. “Parents are also unhappy about the situation.”
One student said the way the matter had been dealt with was unfair as it victimised all students. She said she would have to take extra unpaid leave to rewrite the exams.
Denosa has also called for the resignation of acting registrar Sizo Mchunu‚ saying he had proven unhelpful on key issues. The union says the council does not have adequate capacity to manage nursing in South Africa and lacks quality leadership.
Nurses, under the umbrella of Denosa took to Pretoria’s streets last week and marched to the SANC, in protest over the exam cancellation. According to a Pretoria News report, the cancellation affected 3,417 first-year bridging and 1,589 second-year bridging students.
With the bridging course studies for a year, enrolled nursing students would become general and psychiatric nurses, and get better pay. But, the report says, their plans were thwarted when the SANC nullified all written papers and cancelled ongoing exams.
Saying they had evidence of the leaks, SANC said: “Some candidates have had access to the examination question papers prior to the dates on which the examinations were conducted.” Spokesperson Party-Day Moloi said a security breach of this nature did not only affect individual candidates, but also destroyed the credibility of the entire examination. “It also affects the integrity of nursing education in general,” she said.
The report says the council, which oversees, registers, monitors and regulates the profession, said it took the decision to nullify the compromised examinations and issued a circular to this effect, to the principals of all nursing education institutions and other stakeholders within their mandate. It said it had also gone on to ensure all affected were aware of it and announced the new dates on which the exams would be held.
But, the report said, this did not ease the tensions of students across the country, and on Friday they descended on the Pretoria offices of the SANC to voice their disapproval.
What started off as a march characterised by singing and the waving of placards became chaotic as the crowd approached the council offices in Hatfield. The report said marchers overturned rubbish bins and started burning their contents, storming the gates and demanding to meet top management. They proceeded to occupy the premises after security personnel denied them entry to the building, singing derogatory songs and dancing.