The Commission on Higher Education (ChED) is finally lifting the 11-year moratorium barring several Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) from offering undergraduate and graduate nursing programs.
The moratorium was imposed in 2011 due to an influx of nursing graduates but declining performance in the Nurse Licensure Examinations (NLE), several HEIs offering BS Nursing programs but barely meeting the standard passing rate, and students paying hospitals due to their school’s lack of affiliations with hospitals.
Data from the Department of Labor and Employment showed that when the ban was taken into effect, there were a total of 280,000 nursing graduates, many of whom are either unemployed or underemployed.
CHED’s Chairperson, Prospero De Vera III, said at a press conference on Wednesday (July 13) that the government decided to review the ban after the pandemic exposed the “perceived” shortage of health workers in the country.
De Vera also added that CHED studied the lifting of the moratorium carefully, considering the supply and demand of nurses in accordance with the standards set by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs).
While some lawmakers think that the lifting came in too late, De Vera said that the decision cannot be made in haste. “If you immediately lift it, you might go back to the same situation before 2011, and that situation is of crisis proportions at that time,” De Vera said.
As of July 2021, the country had a total of 333 HEIs offering nursing programs, with the National Capital Region, CALABARZON and Central Luzon having had the most nursing schools at 62, 49, and 29, respectively, but the total number of enrollees in nursing schools had declined through the years.
The study showed that there was a huge gap between the UN SDGs’ ideal number of 300,470 nurses in the country, and the actual number of employed nurses of around 90,205, and that a total of 201,265 nursing jobs must be filled nationwide.
With this, CHED is encouraging state universities and colleges to apply for nursing programs, and consider return-service agreements.
Marvin Joseph Ang is a news and creative writer who follows developments in politics, democracy, and popular culture. He advocates for a free press and national democracy. The views expressed are his own.
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