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DENOSA National Student Movement statement on the outcomes of its first NEC meeting in Pretoria  

Media statement  
Monday, 26 October 2020 
 
The Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA) National Student Movement held its first National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting from 24 and to 25 October at Manhattan Hotel in Pretoria where it discussed and resolved on a number of issues in nursing education and practice which affect student nurses and their well-being. 
 
On the effects of COVID-19 on students and communities and campaigns adopted to address these: 
 
The Student Movement reflected on the effects on COVID-19 on the personal lives of student nurses in both the facilities and their residences. During the discussions, it came out clearly that many students are still affected mentally by the COVID-19 scourge in various forms. 
 
Acknowledging that even community members have been affected dearly by the pandemic and its negative effects on their lives and livelihood, the Student Movement has announced that it will be embarking on Mental Health Awareness programme in various nursing education institutions (NEIs) in the country as a support programme for students. 
 
The other programmes, which will also support community members, include programmes on gender-based violence as well a programme to support girl children with their reproductive health needs. The announcement on the launch of the programmes will be made shortly.  
 
On the poor state of infrastructure at colleges and universities to integrate learning programmes under COVID-19:
  
The Student Movement reflected on the less-than-desired state of decay and poor infrastructure at colleges and universities around the country, which was laid bare the unpreparedness of nursing education to adapt to a new learning environment as imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. 
 
As an example, Mmabatho College of Nursing in the North West has been caught napping in times of COVID-19 as it only has 20 computers that cater for 700 students at the institution, which is not even a drop in the ocean. 
 
On the risks of doing practicals under COVID-19 due to non-supply of PPE to students:
 
The Student Movement has noted with great concern the continuing risk of exposure of student nurses to contracting COVID-19 while doing their clinical practicals due to lack of responsibility between clinical facilities and both colleges and universities on who should provide students with PPE when doing their clinical practice.
 
More student nurses are contracting COVID-19 when doing their practicals. Health institutions provide PPE to full-time working staff only and this is not extended to students, yet they are faced with the same risks. 
 
Upon serious reflection on this, the National Student Movement resolved that the Department of Health, which is responsible for nursing students doing their practicals and clinical facilities, must provide student nurses with full PPE. 
 
On the dismal failure of the bursary system and the need to revert back to PERSAL system: 
 
The Student Movement has noted with serious concern the increasing absenteeism amongst student nurses in the clinical areas as a result of many challenges with the bursary system. Under the bursary system, students are supposed to be transported to and from clinical areas. Often, this is not happening and it often leads to students missing on practicals and their hours, which compromises the academic progress of student nurses for something that is not of their doing. 
 
Since the bursary system replaced the PERSAL system as a funding model for nursing education, the state of nursing education has been leaping from one crisis to the other. Under the PERSAL system, there was protection for student nurses in the clinical settings in cases where they contract disease as they had medical cover and could seek medical attention as soon as they contract the disease. Under the bursary system, however, this was done away with despite the students facing the same risks when doing their practicals. 
 
Moreover, since the introduction of a bursary system, there is now unequal payment of bursary amounts between provinces, universities and colleges. There is also dishonesty in terms of the breakdown of the full amounts of the bursary. Colleges deduct from the lump sum and give to students the remaining amount and still further charge them accommodation and fees from the remaining amount that is due to them. With this glaring discrepancy, the DENOSA Student Movement suspect foul play in the form of corruption and diversion of funds due to this action.  
 
Under the PERSAL system, students could also claim from the Compensation Fund under COIDA when they contracted a virus or disease from their clinical practicals. Under the bursary system, this is no longer the case. Despite hundreds of student nurses having contracted COVID-19 in the country, it is only those employed healthcare workers who are filling in forms for compensation under COIDA. This is ridiculous, exploitative on the part of students and it defies every logic. 
 
The National Student Movement is demanding that student nurses be covered under COIDA and those who have contracted COVID-19 should be filling the Compensation Fund forms just like other employees. DENOSA Student Movement leadership has been tasked with the responsibility to engage the relevant government departments to ensure that justice prevails for student nurses. 
 
DENOSA Student Movement wishes speedy recovery to all student nurses who have contracted COVID-19. 
 
On acts of criminality under the bursary system and resolve to sue the Gauteng Department of Health over syphoned money meant for student nurses  
The Student Movement noted the bursary system not to be just a dismal failure, but has been made a conduit by some unscrupulous managers in government to syphon money off this system. In Gauteng, as far back as 2017, student nurses under the Gauteng Department of Health were promised tablets which were to be fully loaded with the prescribed books for their academic year. An amount of R6000 from each student was deducted for these gadgets. Until today, this was never fulfilled despite monies having exchanged hands between the department and service providers. 
 
The DENOSA National Student Movement resolved to lodge a case with the law enforcement agencies for this injustice, because student nurses were disadvantaged greatly as a result of this. 
 
On the career-pathing for nurses in lower categories:
 
The Student Movement urge the Council for Higher Education (CHE) to break the silence on the processes of accreditation of programmes so that nurses can be certain of what is to happen in 2021 in order to advance or develop themselves academically and professionally. Since COVID-19 has delayed certain processes, the phasing out of R425 programme must be extended. To bridge the gap and to not leave the old programmes behind, both the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) criteria and bridging programmes must be used for selection in order to allow all categories of nurses to be able to go to school and grow professionally, which will assist in orderly transition according to NQF levels.  
 
End 
 
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 
 
Facebook: Denosa Student Movement