The Lenity Scholarship Program -
Raising the standard of nursing care in Tonga
The Lenity Scholarship Program – the first of its kind to exist in Australia - will raise nursing care to a new level of excellence in the Kingdom of Tonga and presents a powerful opportunity to make a substantial difference and contribution to health practices and outcomes for Tongans.
The health of the Tongan people is of the highest priority for the Tongan Government. Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) - such as cardiovascular and diabetes - are endemic and present an increasing drain on the economy and are the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in Tonga. Early detection, prevention and management are critical. Poor diet, lack of physical exercise, smoking and the harmful use of alcohol are the main contributing factors. Compounding this issue is that Tonga, with a population of approximately 107,000, is spread over an archipelago of over 170 islands covering 750 square kilometres.
A pre-requisite of the Tonga National Qualification and Accreditation Board (TNQAB) is that teachers have a qualification at least one level higher than the course they teach. However, the qualifications of the teaching staff at the Queen Salote School of Nursing (QSSN) only allow student education up to diploma level as most teachers at the QSSN are only educated to bachelor’s degree level.
Consequently, the lack of master’s level qualified nursing teachers limits the number of bachelor’s degree nurses and impacts on the quality of care and the effectiveness of the health sector. The flow-on effect will result in an increased number of more highly-skilled health professionals who will be at the forefront in the delivery of essential (basic by Australian standards) care.
The Lenity Scholarship program has educated 6 nurses to the Advanced Learning Master’s level. Ten would enable Queen Salote School of Nursing to apply to teach nursing at degree level.
Lenity has committed funding for a further four Lenity Scholarships to improve the quality and safety of nursing and healthcare practices and health outcomes in the Kingdom of Tonga.