The North West Health Department has called a meeting with Mmabatho Nursing College students on Friday to find ways to recover the lost academic time due to the protracted boycott.
The meeting with students will start at 8am, followed by a parents’ meeting at 11am.
“The meeting will express the position of the department to the students and parents, and further resolve on mechanisms to recoup lost academic time,” said department spokesperson Tebogo Lekgethwane.
The students have boycotted clinical practicals and learning activities for more than two months. Initially, they refused to be transported to their clinical facilities, blaming this on transport problems and congestion of learners at facilities.
The students demanded that the provincial department stop transporting them to clinical facilities and accommodating them. Instead, they wanted to be provided with a transport and accommodation allowance.
During a meeting on Wednesday, negotiations between the Student Representative Council (SRC) at the Mmabatho College and the management of the department, failed.
The meeting was called by North West Health MEC Dr Magome Masike. It was attended by student representatives and other stakeholders, including the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa) and Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu).
However, according to Lekgethwane, student representatives walked out of the meeting when they were not willing to negotiate on the progress made in the last meeting, but rather asked to start the negotiations afresh. Lekgethwane said the department has always been willing to negotiate and meet the students halfway, as some of their demands were deemed reasonable. “The department has, after countless meetings, resolved to move from the original position and therefore agreed to pay transport allowance with immediate effect.
“However, with regard to accommodation, the department reasoned that there are already lease agreements for rental of accommodation occupied by students and therefore requested that such an allowance should start in the new academic year in January 2015 to avoid paying both the students and the landlords.
“To the shock of the management, the students demanded that the department pay students allowance for accommodation and continue to pay landlords in respect of the lease agreement. The department refused this demand, as it will be irregular expenditure,” Lekgethwane said.
He added that the students have continued to change goal posts in the negotiations, which indicates that they are not interested in helping to finding solutions to their demands.
With regards to space at learning facilities, Lekgethwane said the department decided on a rotation system. However, they had to ensure that all students get to be placed on night duty because even they qualify as nurses, they will be expected to work at night.
“To the disappointment of the department, when progress was made, the SRC seemed to accede to the solutions proposed, the students continued to parachute issues into the negotiations, the latest being that the students are now demanding to be put on Persal [Personal and Salary System].
“The department is of the view that a move to put students on Persal requires multi-stakeholders engagements, as there are many students who are offered bursaries by the department.
“Moreover, such a move will require extensive consultation not only in the province but nationally. This is because nursing students are not employees, and therefore cannot be treated differently to other students who are offered bursaries by government elsewhere.”
The department, however, noted that there are students who desperately want to go to class and continue with their studies.
“In taking a way forward, the department is announcing to all parents and the students that the college is re-opening, and academic activities will resume on 14 July 2014.
“The department remains committed to resolve any legitimate grievance of the students,” said Lekgethwane.
Source : SAnews.gov.za