Liberalisation of education in Cameroon: The liberating-paralysing impact on nursing education
Background. Developing nursing’s capacity to influence relevant government policies is a goal of organised nursing. This is challenging for countries such as Cameroon with centralised systems of government, where organised nursing has few to no structures to influence relevant policies, including nursing education policies. However, government may at certain moments pursue policies that have unintended effects on nursing. The Cameroon government’s liberalisation of education was one such policy that, though not specifically targeted at nursing, continues to affect nursing education in Cameroon.
Objectives. This study sought to explore the nature and effect of the liberalisation policy on nurse education in Cameroon.
Method. The study design was based in constructivist grounded theory, a contemporary interpretation of grounded theory. Audio-recorded interviews were conducted with a sample of 10 nurses, purposively drawn from nurse education leadership. Government policy texts on nurse education from independence to present, and interview transcripts, were imported into NVivo 10 software for analysis.
Results. Results showed that liberalisation was based on a 2001 law that officially approved private higher institutes of learning. This led to the start of nursing programmes in these institutes and in universities, leading to the awarding of degrees hitherto unavailable in the country. Some nurses quickly embraced these changes, while others actively resisted them. Analysis of these interacting forces revealed a state of liberalising paralysis that fails to adequately advance nursing education.
Conclusion. A strong nursing body with long-term strategic goals is needed to maximise opportunities where government policy such as liberalisation inadvertently favours professional growth and advancement
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