PRESSURE: MEC Magome Masike, seated, is still to meet nursing students from Mmabatho Nursing College. Picture: Elfas Torerai
The disturbances that led to the temporary closure of the Mmabatho Nursing College seems to be far from over despite students and the provincial health department reaching an agreement to reopen the college.
MEC Magome Masike closed the college on Friday last week but a meeting between the department head, Dr Mokgethi Radebe, and students on Tuesday led to the reversal of the decision.
Masike closed the institution after students had refused to go back to classes, complaining of a move to place them under a bursary scheme that would cut their monthly allowances from R6700 to R1500. They also raised concerns over poor food, inadequate accommodation and a poorly resourced library.
Departmental spokesperson Tebogo Lekgethwane said the department had given students promises to address their concerns and a task team had been put in place to look into all their complaints.
“We agreed to re-open the college on condition that we address their concerns. A task team has already been formed and now awaits terms of reference and timelines from Dr Radebe.
“We have promised that the department would look for alternative accommodation and rent it for students but our long term solution is the construction of a new nursing college for which R300m has been set aside for that,” he said.
On the issue of the bursary system, Lekgethwane said: “We told students that it was not a directive of the department but was initiated by the National Health Council and any issues around that should be sent to the council directly.”
However, one of the student leaders at the college, Tshepo Monoketsi, said the bursary issue was an idea of the department and not the National Health Council.
“It’s only in North West and they can’t tell us that it’s a national issue because no other province is implementing it.
“We want the bursary to be scrapped and we are not relenting on that demand,” he said.
While students are expected to come back today, Monokwetsi said they still had to iron out a few issues with MEC Masike.
“We are going to meet with the ANC, Cosatu, Denosa and Nehawu before meeting MEC Masike because we feel if the issue of the bursary is not addressed, it would lead to massive exodus of nurses from the province,” he said.