As June 16 marks Youth Day in South Africa in commemoration of the 1976 Soweto Uprising, the DENOSA National Student Movement would like to reflect on and highlight the need to address the issue of the increasingly limited access to nursing education in the country and the rising Youth Unemployment with almost no solution to these challenges.
Since the introduction of a bursary system into the nursing education by government away from a PERSAL system, there has been a steady decrease in both the numbers and funding of students to study nursing.
Part of the Soweto Uprising in 1976 was the struggle to realise the section of the Freedom Charter that says “The doors of learning and culture shall be opened.”
The new nursing curriculum, based on the assessment of state of readiness of Nursing Education Institutions (NEIs), has seen institutions taking in for this year numbers of students that are equivalent to a mere fraction of what they used to previously: i.e. whereas an institution used to take about 350 students per year previously, this number has dropped to about 50 students for this year.
This is extremely concerning for both the youth and the country. For the youth, it means opportunities to study nursing have become scarce at the time when the World Health Organisation (WHO) has assessed the shortage of nurses in the world and found that the world is short of over 6 million nurses and that, for each country to avert a crisis level, it must increase the intake for the production of nurses by at least 8% each year until 2030.
For the country, this means healthcare services will suffer greatly, worsened by emergence of pandemics such as COVID-19. With this in mind, DENOSA Student Movement calls on the government, the regulatory body for nursing the South African Nursing Council (SANC), the Nursing Education Institutions (NEIs) and the professional association for nursing in South Africa, DENOSA, to reflect deeply on the cul-de-sac the country is heading towards in the form of the shortage and the lethargic and uncoordinated way in which the country is doing to either avoid or heading straight towards it.
DENOSA Student Movement believes the main cause of this disaster the country is heading towards is caused by lack of vision and the great disjuncture in the age gap between policy-makers, managers and the practicing nurses. As a result, nursing education institutions were not ready to adapt to a new environment that was imposed on the world by COVID-19 order.
This Youth Day, DENOSA Student Movement calls for a tolerable inter-generational mix into nursing so that the policies that are made are innovative and in tune with the current environment for both student nurses and practicing nurses on the ground.
People who are not well-versed on innovation and technology are not likely to develop policies and manage implementation of policies that are in support of innovation and technology.
DENOSA National Student Movement calls for more and sound funding for nursing education by government and private sector entities and hospital groups.
The ugly face of Gender-Based Violence has become the new enemy for the youth, which has taken away our loved sisters brutally at the hands of their partners.
This kind of violence manifests itself in different ways and is rife in a women-dominated profession like nursing where female partners who are nurses work 12-hour shifts of hard labour and are still expected to play family heads by cooking, washing, preparing kids for school and taking care of their partners which becomes too much for an ordinary human being. As a result, many females are falling victims to Gender-Based violence.
As a solution to this challenge, DENOSA Student Movement calls on increasing creativity in restructuring the workplace environment in terms of working hours, as well as increasing family support systems in the country in the law enforcement wing as well as in social development.
With the increasing unemployment among the youth in the country, and worsened by COVID-19 disaster, DENOSA Student Movement suggests as the progressive and immediate solution to this ongoing challenge, which has not been tested yet: release the elders from the workplace at all levels, starting with legislatures, municipalities, private companies, provincial governments and up to national level.
Government’s commitment and support system for entrepreneurs and SMMEs, most of whom are young people, needs to improve greatly in all sectors. And this will improve the current dire situation of hopelessness in the country.
DENOSA Student Movement wishes every young person in South Africa a wonderful Youth Day, and may they be more resilient and robust in demanding what they deserve.
Issued by DENOSA National Student Movement
For more information, contact:
Nathaniel Mabelebele, National Chairperson
Cell: 071 684 1646
Sphumelele Blose, National Secretary
Cell: 079 300 4409