One hundred and twenty-seven prospective nursing students, from Hyderabad, Matiari and Tando Muhammad Khan districts, were awarded certificates today, for completing a course that would improve their chances of entering a university programme.
This opportunity was through Youth Development Programme – An Opportunity for Entering the Nursing Profession, a public-private initiative between the Aga Khan University’s School of Nursing and Midwifery, and the Sindh government’s Community Development Programme under the Planning and Development Department.
Addressing the closing ceremony at a local hotel, Dr Keith Cash, Dean, AKU-SONAM pointed out some of the substantial national barriers to young people entering the professional work force. “One of these is the level of science, English and mathematics that they can achieve in the schooling system. AKU has a tried and tested programme to enhance applicants’ chances of success in entering its nursing and midwifery courses by giving intensive tuition in the three subjects. This partnership was developed to extend that opportunity to the wider community,” he said.
Dr Cash explained that nursing offers exciting career opportunities as there is a worldwide shortage of graduate nurses, and modern and effective healthcare needs highly qualified nurses if it is to be successful. “Our preparatory programme to enable young people to successfully negotiate entrance to the degree programme has been very successful in widening opportunity while maintaining our academic standards,” he added.
Aijaz Ahmed Mahesar, Programme Coordinator, Community Development Programme informed the audience that the Planning and Development Department introduced CDP in 2008 as a public-private partnership – funded from the Annual Development Programme – with a view to assist the Government of Sindh in its social and economic activities.
“Since then, this programme has undertaken social sector development in the areas of health, education, water and sanitation, legal aid, women’s empowerment, and skills development. This initiative is just another addition to the list,” he said.
“CDP is headed by a board of 19 members, 17 of them from private sector, who are fully independent in making decisions,” he added.
Before initiating the project, necessary permissions were obtained from the Director of College Education, Hyderabad Region, to approach the principals of Government Girls’ Degree Colleges Nazareth, New Hala, Qasimabad, Shah Latif, Tando Muhammad Khan and Zubeda. The college administrators provided full support through the sessions which was important for the success of the programme.
The participants are expected to sit an admission test for the four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BScN) programme at a university. At AKU, this academic programme has a mandatory one-year internship to provide students with working experience; they are provided a stipend during this period. At the conclusion of the five years, students are eligible to licensure as a Registered Nurse. This qualifies them to undertake nursing practice and education in healthcare nationally and internationally.
For the convenience of students and the faculty, the classes were scheduled every Sunday for three months – March 3 to June 9. Transport was also available and the students were also awarded a stipend.
“For us it was a great opportunity for learning. What I was taught at the sessions also helped me in my Intermediate exams. I am looking forward to sit in BScN admission test,” commented a participant, Ashna Tahir.
On the occasion, mementos were presented to college principals, and other officials for their contribution.