State conducted examinations of 2011, ‘12, ‘13 and ‘14 batches in May 2018; other batches to wait.
Chandigarh: Over the last few years, students opting for diploma in nursing courses in Haryana have been languishing without a degree even after four to seven years of education simply because the state hasn’t conducted the examinations on time.
The affected students are those who undertook the Auxiliary Nursing Midwifery (ANM) and General Nursing and Midwifery (GNM) courses.
The ANM is a two-year diploma and the GNM, a three-year one. But students of several batches — some who joined as far back as in 2011 — are still waiting to appear in their annual or supplementary examinations, despite finishing with classes years ago.
The students cannot receive their degrees without clearing these examinations.
“Our first-year examinations were conducted in 2017. After that no exams have been held,” says Bhawna, a resident of Kurukshetra who is of the 2015 GNM batch. “We have finished classes for the second year and the third-year classes have already begun. A three-year course has been turned into a five-year one,” she adds.
Up in arms, these students, a majority of them girls from lower and lower-middle-class households, have taken to the streets several times in the past few years. Many continued to attend college despite finishing their classroom studies, while several others dropped out of nursing school, unable to wait for the examinations, and losing out on the money they paid for the nursing course.
Manpreet Kaur, a student of the 2014 GNM batch, says that with the exams being held in such irregular intervals, students tend to lose touch with the subjects.
“By this time I would have been in a job for two years but I have yet to get my diploma. Though I am going to pursue my course, many of my batch mates have left and got married,” says Kaur whose first-year examination was held only in 2016 and the second year in April this year. She is waiting to appear for her third-year exams.
The state’s inability to hold annual examinations for the courses on time has also had a severe impact on fresh admissions, which have witnessed a 50 per cent drop this year. From an average of an annual 12,000 students opting for these courses, the number has fallen to 5,600 this year (2017-18).
There are eight government nursing institutes in Haryana offering the ANM course and another three institutes offering the GNM course. In the private sector, the state has 76 nursing institutes offering ANM and another 73 offering the GNM course.
While the nursing courses are virtually free in government colleges, private institutions charge Rs 1,38,000 for ANM and 1,98,000 for GNM courses.
Jurisdiction issues behind delay
The delay is being blamed on jurisdiction issues over who would conduct the exam.
Before August 2013, the examinations for the ANM, GNM and MPHW courses were conducted by the Haryana Nurses Registration Council. The nursing colleges claim that the council had been conducting the examinations “very smoothly”.
The state government, however, felt the council had become a den of corruption. While the previous Congress government withdrew the council’s power to conduct the examinations in August 2013, the BJP government, which took over in October 2014, virtually disbanded the council.
The state’s directorate of medical education and research (DMER), which was then tasked with holding the exams, held one examination, long overdue, for the 2013 batch in November 2014. But health minister Anil Vij made it clear that all subsequent examinations will be conducted by the Pandit B.D.S University of Health Sciences, Rohtak. The minister said the university would be able to conduct the examinations more professionally than either the council or the DMER.
“However, for the university overloaded with the conduct of degree examinations like MBBS, MD, Pharmacy, BSc Nursing etc, the conduct of the annual ANM and GNM examinations became difficult. The university simply did not have the time or the manpower to conduct these examinations. As a result, one exam after the other got delayed,” says Dr Shaleen, director, medical education and research, Haryana.
Pushed by the DMER, the university did provide some relief to the nursing students in April and May this year, by conducting some of the exams that were long overdue. Over 14,800 students appeared in these exams, including third-year students of 2011, 2012, 2013 GNM batches and second-year students of 2012, 2013 and 2014 GNM batch.
The students, however, are still not out of the woods. Many of them, from very old batches, only appeared in their first and second-year examinations in May 2018.
They cannot appear in the following year’s examination without the results of the May exams being declared. “The results will be declared early next month,” says Dr Shaleen, adding that the following year’s examination for these students will be tentatively held in August.
Effect of delays
The nursing colleges say that the delay in the examinations has had a cascading effect on their functioning. Jagdish, who runs Aryabhatt College of Nursing in Fatehabad, says all batches between 2013 and 2017 have been affected.
“The first-year examinations of the 2013 batch were due to be held in August 2014. These were however conducted in November by the DMER. In June 2015, the government announced that the examinations stood cancelled. Better sense, however, prevailed and the order cancelling these examinations was later revoked. But the results of these examinations were declared only in October 2015, almost a year after they were conducted,” he says.
“By this time, students had already finished their second year but no one knew when the examinations would take place. Another fresh batch had also been admitted waiting for their first-year examinations. That one-year delay began having a cascading effect and one after the other, batches kept piling up,” he adds.
Some pending examinations of the 2011 and 2012 batches were conducted by the university in March 2015 and of 2012, 2013 and 2014 batches in October 2016, all delayed by one to three years.
The students who have stuck on with the courses have no choice but to wait. “If I shift to doing another course, it will again take 3-4 years. Also, those of us who wanted to get lateral entry into BSc nursing cannot do it till we get a diploma,” says Vikas, a 2014 batch student from Hisar. “The exams are not held until students protest or approach the authorities. Why is the system not working smoothly?” he asks.
Troubles galore for students
Apart from the delayed examinations, nursing institutes claim that the even after the examinations are conducted, the students have to wait for months, sometimes even a year for detailed mark-sheets from the university. “And if the mark sheet is given, the diploma arrives late,” says the owner of a nursing institute in Hisar who wished to remain anonymous.
“In the case of the 2013 batch, the first year annual examination was held in November 2014, the result of which was declared in October 2015 and the last sets of detailed mark sheets were received in March 2017. For this batch, there is another discrepancy. The first year mark sheet is given by DMER and for the next two years by the university. The students who want to apply for jobs abroad will have difficulty explaining this,” he adds.
Being streamlined, says govt
Dr Shaleen said the entire system of examination system for these courses is being streamlined. “Since the rules clearly lay down that the mandate of the medical university is to conduct examinations only of degree courses, university authorities feel that an extra burden of work has been thrust upon them. The law mandates that these examinations be conducted by a state-level nursing council. We have set up a new council and examinations of the 2017 batch onwards will be held by them.”
The council, called the Haryana State Nurses and Nurse Midwives Council, has replaced the Haryana Nurses Registration Council. “The new council is presided over by the director, medical education and research. It has already held meetings and hired an agency to conduct examinations. We are also trying to ensure that detailed mark-sheets are made available to the students on the website of the council,” he says.