Media Statements

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DENOSA Student Movement concerns over the announcement to reopen higher learning institutions 

Media statement 
Saturday, 02 May 2020
DENOSA National Student Movement notes the announcement by Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr Blade Nzimande, on the controlled return of final year Clinical Training (medical) students, under strict conditions, as means to also directly assist with the health management campaign of the Department of Health as well as the measures to prepare for the return of all other students across the country. 
He also announced the intention to engage principals of nursing institutions with the view to allow final year students to return to clinical areas. 
We commend the minister on various aspects of the plan, but we would like to raise a concern, which we would like to engage him on, when it comes to students being out in practice at this time of the pandemic. 
We are extremely concerned about the safety of nursing students as they have never actually been safe even before we had a pandemic. It is our strong view that the integration of student nurses into clinical practice environment must be holistic in approach and, in addition to their contribution in their learning, must be cognisant of their welfare and the risks they face. The approach must no longer be a guinea pig one given the fast-changing environment in clinical areas that is increasingly complicated by emergence of more dangerous infectious diseases such as COVID-19. And, that the desirable model in the form of previous stipend system (or PERSAL) is no longer there does not mean it cannot be reintroduced.   
The students must be insured in the case of danger should they contract COVID-19 while forming part of the frontline.
Furthermore, the minister announced the intention to provide distance learning support mechanism for students who are beneficiaries of NSFAS at higher learning institutions across the country in the form of laptops and provision of data. While there will have to be a lot of background work that needs to be done to fully integrate and complement this large-scale approach, this announcement is commendable, although it automatically excluded majority student nurses who are on a bursary system from the Department of Health and many students whose parents fell just short of qualifying for NSFAS support by a few cents or Rands (or the so-called “missing middle”).  
Nursing colleges absolutely have no adequate infrastructure to accommodate online learning, which will keep nursing education behind, especially in nursing colleges. With an effort to avoid course extension and ensure continuation of learning we are engaging the office of the minister to see the possibility of assisting students with study gadgets. We believe this will be a first start to bringing colleges closer to technological methods of learning.
We believe the support from the Department of Higher Education and Training would be greatly and desperately needed in this regard. 
Therefore, student nurses as part of their training are expected to perform clinical duties for experiential learning, but today it is not experiential learning because the minute a student enters a facility they automatically change to employees due to shortage of staff. And today students are still denied PERSAL system and are imposed with a BURSARY SYSTEM as a model of funding without study materials to use. 
Issued by DENOSA National Student Movement
For more information, contact:
Nathaniel Mabelebele, National Chairperson
Cell: 071 684 1646 
Sphumelele Bloze, National Secretary 
Cell:  079 300 4409