In 1980 a group of nurses working on curriculum development for nursing in South Africa expressed the need to meet regularly and to invite other nurses to help with the process. In 1981 the Curriculum Association was established. In 1988 the name was changed to the Nursing Education Association (NEA) and all aspects of nursing education were included. An annual national conference was held to update and develop educators by offering opportunities to present papers. Recognition from stakeholders was actively sought. In 2005 a national executive committee was formed to strengthen the process and ten regional chapters were formed. They worked on the income they generated from membership and developed a website to increase the visibility of the organisation. They continued to strengthen the relationships at National Department of Health, SANC and amongst other nursing education stakeholders to gain recognition. In 2008 NEA was well established and Atlantic Philanthropies awarded NEA a grant to strengthen the organisation and advocacy for nursing education. The NEA Board was constituted consisting of the regional chapter chairpersons. A Chief Executive Officer (CEO) was appointed in 2010 and the focus became the dissemination of information and continuous professional development for nurse educators. Premises were bought in partnership with the Forum for University Nursing Deans in South Africa (FUNDISA) and a Head office was established.
The organisation has gone from good to great because they remain focussed and continually strive for excellence in nursing education. It is now registered with the Department of Social Development as a Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) and has complied with all legal requirements.