On Wednesday, October 27, the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Mutahi Kagwe, revealed that all but 10 of the 300 nurses who applied for job opportunities in the United Kingdom failed the English proficiency test.
The mass failure put the Kenyan education system in the spotlight.
Kenyan nurses took the Specialist Language Courses (SLC) online English test, which is specially designed for international nurses seeking to work in the UK.
CS Kagwe expressed concern over the high number of nurses who failed the English test and urged those who would like to explore opportunities in future to be conversant with the English language.
Nurses had 20 minutes to complete 60 multiple-choice questions. The nurses were part of a programme that the government negotiated for clinical workers for job exports in the UK.
The nurses were given answer options for the test but still failed to pick the correct ones. Some of the questions the nurses failed to answer are:
1. My teacher ______ from the United Kingdom.
. What’s _______ name?
3. My friend _______ in London.
D. Is live
4. Where _______?
A. Works Tom
B. Tom works
C. Tom does work
D. does Tom work
5. I _______ coffee.
A. No like
B. Not like
C. Like don’t
D. Don’t like
According to the Specialist Language Courses website, the test covers the English required in all the key areas of care, to ensure safe and effective practice by nurses relocating to Britain and getting access to work in public hospitals, private clinics and care homes.
“The course builds nurses’ confidence and accuracy when communicating with patients, colleagues, and patients’ families and friends,” the statement from SLC read in part.
“The course is set at a B1 or intermediate level on the Common European Framework and will enable nurses to achieve a B2 level in Medical English by the end of the course,” it added.
Some of the topics covered in the course include; Talking about the Body, Key Medical Terminology, Pressure Area Care, Preventing Falls, Infection Control, IV Therapy, Breathing Difficulties, Administrating Medications, Giving Accurate Handovers and End-of-Life Care.
Meanwhile, nurses also take the OET Placement Test which consists of four parts; reading, listening, writing and speaking. The reading, listening and writing papers are taken online. Reading and listening are machine-marked, while writing is marked by a trained English teacher and examiner.
The Speaking test is conducted online in real-time, also with a trained teacher and examiner, taking 10-15 minutes to do.