Uganda’s nursing and midwifery schools, and their student strikes over the years
Before the year 2000, nursing & midwifery students, and strikes weren't words to be found in the same sentence. This, however, changed post 2000 with the first reported strike in 2002. It would be almost another decade (10yrs)before a strike action by student nurses and midwives would be reported on. Many of the student strike actions start in 2012. From 2012 to 2018, there was an average of one strike action by student nurses and midwives in Uganda. The year 2015 was the only exception. It had two reported student strike actions. Here are some of the nursing and midwifery schools and the reasons that underpinned the strike actions they came to be known for. Soroti School of Comprehensive Nursing Students at the school are reported to have gone on strike for 10days, the longest student strike action thus far! The students were demanding a change to the school's administration, and tutors. Specifically, they wanted Emma Juma (then school Principal), Jane Okodi (Deputy principal), and Simon Odepe (accountant) transfered. The students complained of lacking tutors and drunkeness of those available. High school fees, poor feeding as well as sanitation were equally a discomfort to the students. The school was thus temporarily closed on the 25th October 2002 (after 10days) by then BTVET assistant commissioner Henry Francis Okinyal to allow for the causative issues to be addressed. The school is open at present. Uganda's nursing and midwifery schools, and their student strikes over the years - part 2 Kabale School of Comprehensive Enrolled Nursing The school saw a student strike action on 30th July 2012 with the student's major complaint being poor quality meals. The beans, in their view, were heavily infested with weevils. The student's rage didn't spare then Guild president Mr Fred Byamukama either with students accusing him of siding with the administration over them. The strike action started with a rejection of the lunch and supper followed by a pitch camp in the school's compound. And as is the case led to some members of staff flee for fear of being attacked by the students. It's was reported that the school Principal Mrs Yedidah Biribonwa Sentongo wasn't at the school during the strike. Special meals were subsequently changed on the Principal's orders. Mulago school of nursing and midwifery students on strike Photo: Students of Mulago school of nursing and midwifery on strike Mulago School of Nursing and Midwifery The school is arguably one of the most, if not the most, prestigious of Uganda's nursing and midwifery schools. It too has had students go on strike action. Being attached to the country's national referral hospital for a practicum site, strike actions at this nursing and midwifery school are some of the most docummented. The most outstanding of these being the student's strike on 7th May 2013 when students protested due to a 10 month power outage at the school's hostels despite multiple efforts and engagements, by the students, to get the issue fixed. It appears that the students only resorted to a sit-down strike after penning a letter to the Ministry of Education as well as Mulago Hospital management. Their pleas didn't elicit any responce. Then Guild president Sarah Carol Komuguni was quoted as saying: “we shall not go back to class until power is reconnected. We are determined to push on.” And power they did get. Electricity was thereafter reconnected, and all went back to being as before. Quiet an effective tactic. Rakai Community Nursing School. This may be one of a few more violent strike actions that required police involvement to disperse to striking students. This much rage and anger, on the part of the students, was reportedly precipitated by Mrs Marry Ssewamuwe's (the school Principal) actions. Students were blocked from sitting their promotional examinations despite paying the examination fee and completing tuition to 'zero' balance. According to John Mwebaze (then Guild president), trouble started after Mrs Ssewamuwe informed the students that Unmeb had only sent exam papers for only 90 students out of the registered 147 students. He further went on to say that second year students had been the most displeased after having paid Ugx shs. 70,000 for the promotional exams in addition to the Ugx shs. 1.3million as tuition. The last straw that broke the camel's back was Mrs Ssewamuwe's hand picking of students who would be allowed to sit the exams, a selection criteria she said was based on 'who had paid first.' Students would have none of that.