Johannesburg - The Department of Health is to focus more energy on revitalizing nursing colleges and creating a vibrant nursing education and training system.
Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said on Tuesday strengthening colleges was the next focus for his department and discussions with the Department of Higher Education and Training were at an advanced stage.
The two departments have begun a project to assess what exists in the system, where its strengths lie and what the weaknesses are in terms of teaching and learning resources.
"We also want to identify those colleges with strengths which may be replicated throughout the system and which have innovative approaches to planning, management or student support."
Dr Motsoaledi explained that through this process, the departments would guide and build a national nursing college system which responds to the needs of their system, whether in producing the numbers they want and assisting learners especially from poor backgrounds to complete their studies at colleges.
He said the department had also agreed with the Department of Higher Education and Training on the need for a diversified nursing education and training system, cutting across higher education and further education programmatic levels in the National Qualifications Framework (NQF).
"We also agree that the diversity of institutions must be respected in a way that speaks to the rationale elaborated in the national Human Resource Development Strategy.
"However, we also realize that given the critical skills requirements and demands, a rational planning process needs to be elaborated as part of revitalizing nursing education and training in our country," he said.
However, the minister warned that this had to be done in partnership with other sections of the schooling system, post-compulsory schooling system and the higher education system.
"We would also want to do this in a carefully planned way - in order to avoid declines in the number of graduates in the key nursing programmes," said Dr Motsoaledi.
The minister was speaking during the Nursing Education Association conference on Tuesday.