Nurses an­gered by de­ci­sion on exam re­write

Pa­per was leaked, says nurs­ing coun­cil

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - NEWS - ZOHRA TEKE, NTANDO MAKHUBU and VIRGILATTE GWANGWA

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.”

PIC­TURE: JAC­QUES NAUDE

Denosa nurs­ing stu­dents protest out­side the SA Nurs­ing Coun­cil be­cause they do not want to re­write an exam.

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