Nurses angered by decision on exam rewrite
Paper was leaked, says nursing council
ABOUT 5 000 nurses across the country have been told they will need to rewrite their exams after the leaking of their May exam papers.
Nurses, under the umbrella of the Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA (Denosa), took to the streets of Pretoria on Friday and marched to the South African Nursing Council (SANC) in protest against the cancellation of the exam, which had been written last month.
The cancellation affects 3 417 first-year and secondyear bridging bridging students.
Passing the bridging course studies for a year enables nursing students to become general and psychiatric nurses and to get better pay.
Saying it had evidence of the leaks, the 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 affected not only individual candidates, but also destroyed the credibility of the entire examination.
“It also affects the integrity of nursing education in general.”
The council, which oversees, registers, monitors and regulates the profession, said it had taken 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 its mandate.
It said it had also made ensure all those affected were aware of it and would announce the new dates on which the exams would be held.
“In an effort to minimise any prejudice and inconvenience to students, the examinations have been scheduled for the earliest possible dates to ensure that the candidates are not made to wait until the investigations are completed,” Moloi said.
In a notice sent to principals of nursing education institutions earlier this month, the SANC called on all enrolled nurses who wrote in May to rewrite the exams next week, saying it was investigating a breach in security in the exams.
“The decision to request a rewrite was not taken lightly. We first received an anonymous tip off of a leak during the exams and waited to receive all the papers back for marking before we initiated our investigations. We then found evidence of a leak and had to follow policy on how to proceed, which states that those exams become null and void and fresh exams then need to be written to ensure the authenticity of our nurses who work in the profession,” said the council’s registrar, Sizo Mchunu.
While she would not disclose the prevalence of the leak, she confirmed it had been discovered in at least three provinces.
“Our investigations are still ongoing into this matter and we cannot go into more details on the leaks at this stage except to say it affects first- and second-year enrolled nurses. We are also meeting unions and other stakeholders to explain the situation to them to ensure they are on board with the processes which we need to follow,” added Mchunu.
However, The Health and Other Services Personnel Trade Union of South Africa (Hospersa) has warned it will go to court if the SANC failed to immediately retract the directive.
“This circular from the nursing council was sent earlier this month. Many of these students may not get the message on time as some may still be on holiday or already returned to work. We strongly object to the cancellation of the exams as there’s been no further information on the so-called leak in papers and has plunged nurses who wrote into chaos and uncertainty. They are now being forced to re-write the exams and will be placed under undue stress both financially and from a work load perspective. We are calling on the council to accept the results of the examinations already written and then discipline those who cheated, rather than paint every single learner with the same brush,” said spokesperson Noel Desfontaines.
But, Mchunu has shot back, calling the threats of court action unfortunate.’
“Hospersa should have approached us to request a discussion around the issue first rather than rush to take us to court. We can then make them understand the process and also the policies which we are being directed by. We are also happy to send the circular of the new exams to all their members if we have a list of names. We have not had any issues in the past as all nursing education authorities have been able to successfully contact students where needed,” added Mchunu.
The bone of contention, Denosa deputy secretarygeneral Kwena Manamela said, was Circular 2, which stated that students had to rewrite their exams.
“The exams referred to are the ones that students already wrote… and now everyone must rewrite them,” he said in Pretoria on Friday.
“All efforts were put into writing that examination and to be told you won’t get any results is really frustrating,” Manamela said.
Pretoria North student Keitumetse Ditabo said she did not want to rewrite as it was unfair that all her sleepless nights studying now amounted to nothing.
“I have neglected my family for months preparing for those exams. Now, when I’m supposed to bond with my children, I am told I will have to neglect them once more.”
Denosa nursing students protest outside the SA Nursing Council because they do not want to rewrite an exam.