Picture: iSTOCK
Picture: iSTOCK

Thousands of nursing students across SA have to rewrite their bridging course examinations after it emerged that question papers were leaked.

SA has a shortage of professional nurses, with an estimated 300 leaving the country every month for better opportunities in other countries.

An estimated 287,458 nurses are registered with the South African Nursing Council, in addition to 32,112 students, according to statistics.

The council’s primary function is regulating the education and training of nurses and midwives.

On June 12, it announced the cancellation of first- and second-year examinations written in May pertaining to a bridging course that allows successful students to register as general or psychiatric nurses.

The cancellations affected thousands of students at nursing education institutions across SA.

"It has come to the attention of the South African Nursing Council that some learners had access to the examination question papers prior to the date on which they were due to write," the council said in a circular to principals. "In these circumstances, the council had no option but to take the decision to cancel the examination."

The council said it was still investigating the circumstances that led to a breach of security in the exams. Rewrites would take place on June 28 and 30.

The nursing sector also has to contend with a growing number of illegal colleges.

Section 42 of the Nursing Act 2005 makes it illegal for any institution in SA to provide education or training intended to qualify a person to practise as a nurse or a midwife unless both the institution and the programme of education and training are accredited by council.

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