BY STAFF WRITER
“Parliament has resolved that the Uganda Nurses and Midwives Council should issue practising certificates to the former nursing students of Uganda Christian University (UCU),” Dr Jemimah Mutabaazi, the head of Nursing Department at UCU, has said.
“This issue was presented in Parliament by the Minister of Education and Sports, Janet Museveni, and it was resolved that the affected students should be registered by the Uganda Nurses and Midwives Council .
“Therefore the Speaker now has to write to the Uganda Nurses and Midwives Council in that regard because Parliament’s decision is binding. The problem has been solved and the students just need to be patient,” she added.
This comes after a group of 21 former students, represented by the Center for Legal Aid and Maxim Advocates, filed a suit at Mukono High Court on July 26, 2017 suing the university for Shs900 million in damages for having obtained degrees that the Uganda Nurses and Midwives Council, the regulatory body for the nursing and midwifery professionals in the country, rendered “fake”.
This is because the graduates of the programme of Bachelor of Nursing Science were one subject less than the minimum requirements (Biology or Chemistry) upon admission for the course.
One of the plaintiffs, who preferred anonymity, confirmed to The Standard that they are aware that Parliament resolved to register the nurses but the problem is in the time and process it is taking to effect this resolution.
“When we go to Parliament they tell us that the letter was written and sent to Uganda Nurses and Midwives Council by the Speaker; but when we go to Uganda Nurses and Midwives Council they claim they have not yet received the mandate, which keeps us stagnated,” she said.
The breakaway group of 21 students, spearheaded by Ivan Walukhu and Frida Chebet, have therefore resorted to suing the university demanding for Shs900 million in damages for, “relief arising out of breach of contract, breach of statutory duty, fraudulent and/or negligent misrepresentation, unjust enrichment, and violation of the plaintiffs’ (students) human rights protected by articles 30, 39 and 40(2) of the Constitution,” as stated in the suit that was filed.
They claim that their ability to acquire nursing licences, employment or pursue further education in their field has been impaired.
They further quote suffering from distress, humiliation, embarrassment, anxiety, psychological harm and career stagnation.
The positions held by the Vice Chancellor of the University, Dr John Senyonyi, in the National Council of Higher Education (NCHE) as a chairperson of the Quality Assurance and Accreditation Committee, then as the chairperson of Audit and Risk Management Committee, helped the university stage the fraudulent course well aware of its shortcomings, the suit states further.
Michael Mubangizi, the Marketing and Communications officer of UCU, said that all these claims made already had solutions, but he did not divulge the details before they were officially filed in defence of the university.
In an official statement issued by UCU in October 2016, in response to an article by The Observer of August 29, 2016 on the same matter, the university explained that it was holding transparent discussions with the students, the Uganda Nurses and Midwives Council , and the NCHE.
“We also made up for the deficiency in chemistry by offering remedial courses and seeking NCHE’s permission to set up a bridge course. On conflict of interest, while it is true that the vice chancellor chairs two committees at the NCHE, he is a person of integrity who excuses himself when such conflicts arise. The minutes of council will bear this out,” the statement read in part.
“Admittedly, these solutions have been slowed down by the need for concrete feedback from various stakeholders, but these are not the actions of people whose only interest is collecting money from students as is being represented,” the statement read further.
According to Mubangizi, represented by Counsel Frederick Mpanga of A. F. Mpanga & Company Advocates, UCU is set to file their defence within the course of the week starting August 21.
“We do not know when the hearing will be set, because I understand the court is on holiday, but we are ready and are waiting to provide our defence in this case,” he added.