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Rwanda: Wrangle Between National Council and Unlicensed Nurses Escalates

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A yet to be resolved wrangle is tearing up hundreds of would-be nurse graduates against National Council of Nurses and Midwives. The graduates are accusing the council of denying them licensing exam so as to be allowed to work as professional nurses due to their lack of science back ground.

“To be able to work as a professional nurse requires one to have license from the council which is renewed every three years. When you do not renew your license, you get dismissed from the profession,” says Agnes Uwayezu, the president of the National Council of Nurses and Midwives.

However, the council has recently discovered that some nurses do not deserve to get license to work as professionals because of what the Council termed as ‘lack of science background.’

“How can someone who did construction course in secondary school be allowed to study and do nursing when they do not have science background in biology and chemistry? They are putting people’s health at risk,” Agnes Uwayezu exclaimed during an exclusive interview with The Rwanda Focus.

“Having science back ground in secondary school such as chemistry, biology and other subjects such as math and physics is the backbone to studying medical courses in University. After graduation, the Nurses council bases on that to give them another licensing exam to see if they are able and passionate,” Uwayezu noted.

The council has learnt that most of those graduates without science back ground have obtained their diplomas from neighboring countries.

The council president also told us that the decision was taken after exam results indicated that over 50 candidates out of 800 had totally failed and later 246 out 800 in February were also found not having any science background.

“We used to give them exams without checking their back ground. With recent exams, we found many extremely failing the exam set by the council. That is when we embarked on investigating the reason. We discovered that they had never learnt sciences in secondary schools. We are also wondering why private Universities receive them and give them favor to pass,” she added.

The council president also went ahead to read to us a list of subjects some of the so called ‘nurses’ had learnt in secondary school; “Agronomy, Literature and Languages, Accountancy, Pedagogy, Normale primaire

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Secretariat, science in humanities, sociology, veterinary, construction, Latin and Philosophy, Tailoring, gestion, tourism… ”

“The union immediately suspended them from sitting the exams. We had to wonder if they studied nursing in Rwanda or outside Rwanda. The students are running to parliament and prime minister for appealing. This issue is confusing and is awaiting resolutions ahead of the other exam next month with 800 candidates ready to sit for it,” she added

Resolution expected by end of July
A graduate, living in Musanze district, who preferred anonymity, told The Rwanda Focus that he studied construction in secondary school in Burera district and continued to pursue a nursing course at the University in DR Congo.

“There should be mobilization on what is needed to practice nursing and midwifery in Rwanda instead of denying them license after completing studies,” he said.

He however confirmed that it was not easy to understand some courses for those who didn’t study biology and chemistry in secondary which led some of their colleagues to change options.

The University graduate pleads for tolerance from the nurses union to let candidates sit for professional exam and then figure out a way of phasing out the incoming problem.

What is the way forward?
Uwayezu insists that very soon the union will present the whole information to the ministries of education and health who are following up the dialogues so as to come up with final decision by the end of July.

“I cannot even allow them to work anywhere because that would be infringing the law yet the ministries will advise on what to do. This issue is not occurring in Rwanda public universities but in private universities that also wrote to us for such tolerance despite the mistakes knowingly made,” she said.