Faiza Iqbal is a Bachelor of Nursing (BSN) student at the Khuzdar College of Nursing. She has been studying here for three years but is in the third semester of her second year. She has spent almost a year completing one semester’s coursework, not because of her poor academic performance or any other failure.
She explains that most of the subject’s instructors are unavailable at her college, which results in irregular class schedules. She says she would be studying in the sixth semester if these conditions didn’t exist. “If the current situation persists, it will take me eight years to complete a BSN degree.”
All the female students at this college face these circumstances, and two years ago, the monthly stipends they used to receive were also discontinued.
In 2017, a vacant old building of another department in Khuzdar was temporarily converted into a nursing school. When nursing diploma programs were phased out nationwide, and the BSN programme started in 2019, this school was also upgraded to a College of Nursing.
The school was upgraded to a college, but the necessary resources were not provided. This college is affiliated with Khuzdar Teaching Hospital, which has three hundred beds.
However, there is no appointed nursing superintendent in the hospital, and additional responsibilities have been assigned to a male doctor.
In this college, which serves Khuzdar, Qalat, Sorab, Mastung, Washuk, and Awaran, 79 female BSN students are enrolled. In the first year, 19 students joined, and in the second and third years, 30 students were admitted, respectively. The fourth batch has not yet commenced.
Khalida Abdul Haq, a second-semester student, is also deeply disappointed with the college’s conditions and the administration’s attitude. She complains that the Health Department is not concerned about the nursing college, nor does it care about the student’s future. With each academic year, one year of their lives is wasted.
“Our parents are becoming increasingly disappointed. Someone should ask them how they educated us in a tribal society for twelve years. Now, how can they endure eight years instead of four, and will we only get a scholarship for four years?”
The students, frustrated with the non-appointment of a principal, non-disbursement of scholarships, lack of transportation, and basic facilities at the Nursing College, staged a protest last month and held a sit-in. The protest was called off after negotiations with the Deputy Commissioner and health officials.
Khalida says that no English teachers are available in the college. The students have collectively arranged for an English teacher, who they pay 500 rupees each per month, accumulating to a 25,000 rupee salary for the teacher.
She mentions that due to the absence of a nursing hostel, she resides with the Public Health School girls and commutes to the college by bus service for the college. This bus only provides pick-and-drop services, so many students cannot visit clinical wards due to the lack of transportation.
Faiza Iqbal revealed that no water is available in the nursing college building. There are only two rooms available for three classes. For a long time, only two nursing teachers have been running the Nursing College without a principal, so scholarships were also suspended.
She mentioned that the continuous protests yielded some results as a senior tutor was temporarily appointed as the principal, who is also handling the college’s administration alongside teaching. This led to the resumption of scholarships for the students for one year. However, other assurances have not been acted upon yet.
In the Khuzdar Nursing School, the first principal, Rifat Hidayat, was appointed in January 2017. Salma Gul, affiliated with Mastung, was made the principal in the same year in August. Rifat Hidayat transferred last year, and Salma Gul went for training this year.
Four tutors and one head nurse were given instructions to report to the college during this time, but none were prepared to attend. Acting charge of Principal (Grade 17) of the Nursing College has been given to Tutor Benazir (Grade 16) on protest of the students.
Acting Principal Benazir has been running the tutor’s office since the establishment of the Nursing School. She explains that the college building consists of only six rooms, of which four small rooms have been designated for the principal’s office, library, clerk’s office, and storage.
In comparison, only two rooms are available for classes.
“There were initially two classes, but now we have a third batch. We only have two classrooms. If the building of the District Health Development Center, which is connected to the college, is temporarily allocated to us, and a few rooms are constructed, then classes can begin.”
The principal mentioned that the college has six nursing instructors and tutors positions. However, five positions are vacant, including the nursing tutor and English tutor. There are eighteen non-teaching staff positions, but only four employees currently work. In sensitive areas like Khuzdar, there isn’t even a security guard for the students.
She explained that positions for the Superintendent, Assistant Librarian, Senior Clerk, Junior Clerk, and Assistant Warden are also vacant.
Similarly, permission has not been granted to fill positions of Computer Operator, Laboratory Assistant, Driver, Deputy Dispatcher, Sweeper, Watchman, and Gardener.
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According to the Principal, the budget of the Nursing College is insufficient. The issue with the students’ hostel is that sometimes there is no electricity, and the generator is often out of order. Funds are requested for the maintenance of the building, but they are not provided.
Last year, the provincial government approved the construction of a new building for the Nursing College, with an estimated budget of 300 million rupees. MPA Khuzdar Mir Yunus Aziz Zahri laid the foundation stone for the college building on Sasool Road on July 17, 2022. So far, 180 million rupees have been allocated for the building, but the construction is still in progress.
District Health Officer Bashir Ahmed Bangulzai of Khuzdar explains that the Nursing College falls under the Directorate of Health Services. There is no Divisional Director of Health Service and no additional charge, so the affairs of the Nursing College are affected. If he is assigned an additional charge, he can oversee these matters.
An interesting point is that the position of Director-General of Nursing is also vacant in Balochistan. Dr Noor Qazi, the Director-General of Health Services, is currently handling the additional responsibility of DG Nursing.
He acknowledges the difficulties faced by the students. Efforts are underway to appoint ad hoc tutors for the Nursing College as soon as possible. Work is in progress, and the positions will be announced soon. Over three and a half crore rupees budget has been allocated for Khuzdar Nursing College in the current fiscal year, and work is proceeding rapidly.
Published on 27 Sep 2023