25 March 2011

Ghana: New Criteria for Nurses Admission Is Retrogressive


The changing scenes of life demand constant attendant changes in methods, modalities, procedures to ensure progress and advancement in knowledge and well being of humanity. Any system that fails to correspondingly move with the times will find itself out of tune, outdated and consequently unproductive. Thus change is a fact of life.

But change should not be just for its sake; it should be positive, uplift the human spirit, liberate energies for improved productive activity and lead to a palpable and qualitative change in the lives of people. Accordingly, any new arrangement which has the potential of derailing societal gains should not be countenanced anywhere.

It is against this background that we find it difficult to agree with the Nursing and Midwifery Council on proposals that, from next year applicants to nursing training colleges with a combination of results from more than three sittings of either the Senior Secondary School Certificate Examinations (SSCE) or the West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examinations (WASSCE) will not be admitted. We find this new arrangement being contemplated by Nursing and Midwifery Council counterproductive, to say the least.

The reasons which account for rewriting or re-sitting of the SSCE or WASSCE by students are heterogeneous. Some students were in Senior High Schools that lack the requisite infrastructure for effective teaching and learning. There are also instances where differences in knowledge arising out of different methods employed by different teachers in different schools have produced different results for students of the same Intelligence Quotient (IQ). Some schools are generally poorly endowed and also lack strong and vibrant old students associations to supplement their efforts through the provision of logistics.

Thus, many of the students who happened to be products of schools buffeted with these challenges tend to produce results which are not encouraging. However, the zealous ones with a purpose and vision in life do not give up; with determination, persistency and perseverance they move on to rewrite or re-sit their papers till they make the required grades to scale up the academic ladder. This is the fate of most students in Ghana which does not in the least signify that they are nincompoops.

We of Public Agenda commend the principals of the respective nursing training colleges for opposing the rather retrogressive arrangement which would have thrown out many of the student- nurses home if it had been implemented when the directive was announced.

Our investigations revealed that when the issue came up for discussion at a conference of stakeholders in the Health Sector in February this year at Ho and attended by members of the Nursing and Midwifery Council, representatives from the Ministry of Health and the Ghana Health Service, the principals were asked to petition the Ministry and the Council to allow the schools to absorb affected students only for this year, implying that the idea will be resurrected next year.

Public Agenda

We therefore appeal to all those concerned with the introduction of the new arrangement to abandon the idea since it will not help the cause of nursing training and the development of health personnel in general in the country.

is of the view the proposed arrangement if implemented will only cut short the ambition of many prospective applicants of becoming nurses to contribute their quota to national development, and also secure employment in the future. If the authorities concerned think they are confronted with the challenge of numbers, a way out is to adopt a method similar to the then First University Examinations (FUE) where all first year students of the university after having been taught by the same lecturers write the same examinations after which those who are not able to make the required grades are withdrawn; that will be a fairer assessment.

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