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UKZN’s Professor Fikile Mtshali (left) with students
in the Bachelor of Nursing programme at the
Seychelles.

Nineteen Seychellois students, registered for a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing at UKZN, will make history next year when they graduate as the first generation of nurses produced in their home country with degrees.

UKZN’s Nursing Discipline – a World Health Organisation (WHO) Collaborating Centre in the African region – offers the bachelor’s degree to students in the Seychelles who are taught using a blended approach. This includes UKZN academics lecturing in block periods in the Seychelles and also via Moodle – the online learning tool which enables further discussions between lecturers and students, submission of assignments and individualised feedback to each student. 

The project was conceived in 2008 by Professor Fikile Mtshali, Dean of Teaching and Learning for UKZN’s College of Health Sciences, and Professor Oluyinka Adejumo, former Head of UKZN’s School of Nursing and now acting Head of the School of Nursing at the University of the Western Cape. 

Both academics were invited by the African Region’s WHO to conduct a situational analysis of Nursing and Midwifery with personnel in Seychelles and they were joined by Professor Busi Bhengu from UKZN in 2011. They held meetings with the Ministry of Education, the Seychelles Nursing and Midwifery Council and the Ministry of Health to develop the Education and Training Plan for nurses and midwives in the country.

Recently returned from her lecturing block at Seychelles, Mtshali said the students really appreciated the opportunity being afforded by UKZN.

‘At present the highest qualification in nursing in their country is a three-year diploma. The country sends very few people to study and the students need to raise part of the funds to cover the study expenses. Through this project the students will be the first group of nurses produced within the country with a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing.  According to them, completing this qualification next year will open opportunities to pursue further studies in the areas of their choice,’ said Mtshali. 

The entire project was implemented last year and is being co-ordinated by Dr Jennifer de Beer under the guidance and direction of Professor Busi Ncama, Dean and Head of the School of Nursing and Public Health.  It follows a semester system and the students write exams at the same time as UKZN onsite students. 

Mtshali said once this group graduated the plan was to start offering Bachelor of Nursing in Seychelles as a way of upgrading the education and training of nurses.

She said practical exams take place in Seychelles and the plan towards the end of the programme was to have students coming to South Africa to spend time in local health care settings to get exposed to learning experiences outside their country. 

Other UKZN academics in the Seychelles abroad programme include Professor Busi Bhengu, Professor Petra Brysiewicz, Professor Gugu Mchunu, Dr Sisana Majeke, Dr de Beer, Dr Jonene Naidoo, Dr Jennifer Chipps, Ms Miranda Banda, Mrs Zanele Zondi and Professor Snegugu Duma.