New qualifications framework to curb fake certificates

A higher education qualifications framework aimed, inter alia, at curbing the proliferation of fake certificates will be in place at the start of January 2018.

In terms of the new Kenya National Qualifications Framework, a national database of qualifications, publishing codes and guidelines will be maintained; an annual report on the status of qualifications will be produced; and interrelationships and linkages across national qualifications in consultation with stakeholders will be reviewed. The framework will also provide accurate graduate data to prospective employers.

In an exclusive interview with University World News, the Kenya National Qualifications Authority Chairman Bonaventure Kerre said the guidelines for the framework have been validated.

“Learning institutions will have two years to ensure all academic records are deposited in the central database,” said Kerre. “The framework would provide guidelines on the length of time certificate, diploma and degree courses should take.”

He said that the framework is based on criteria that aim to integrate and coordinate qualifications to improve the transparency and quality of programmes offered in institutions of higher education.

“This is an important step that will ensure order in the manner in which institutions handle certification of academic credits,” said Kerre, adding that it will also give direction on the number and quality of courses to be offered by the institutions before graduation.

“The guidelines will put to an end the confusion being experienced in our education system.”

Kenya has lagged behind other East African countries in building a one-stop qualification registry under the East African Community’s Common Higher Education Area launched this year.

The new framework is expected to facilitate the development of an accreditation system for degree certificates awarded by universities.

Early this year Education Cabinet Secretary Dr Fred Matiang’i warned institutions offering substandard diplomas and degrees, saying many of them were driven by profits and personal interests.

The cabinet secretary asked professional organisations to work with the universities' regulator, the Commission for University Education, in advising on course qualifications.

“Greed for money has pushed some universities into starting bogus academic courses that do not improve skills,” said Matiang’i

“Universities have gone to a point where they are offering bridging courses. If you don’t have a good grade in mathematics, they imagine the bridging has redeemed your ‘D’ so you are now qualified for a diploma programme.”

The Kenyan higher education system has expanded rapidly, with more than 20 public and private universities accredited in the past two years.

It is expected that the new guidelines will eliminate the controversies that arise over the qualifications of people seeking high-profile public and political posts.

The Commission for University Education has raised the alarm over the increased use of fake degrees to secure employment in an economy with a shortage of openings in the job market.
Ahead of the 2013 elections, several candidates for political office had their qualifications rejected by the commission.

This year the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission set up a technical team to verify the credibility of qualification certificates presented by politicians running for office.

This was after some prominent politicians’ certificates and academic qualifications were found to be questionable. The commission’s focus was on weeding out those with fake certificates, especially governor and presidential aspirants, who are required to hold at least a bachelor degree.

The commission this year also revoked a number of university degree and diploma certificates awarded by fraudulent means to students, among them politicians.

The certificates were recalled after it emerged that some of the recipients had graduated despite facing pending legal and disciplinary cases, that some had sat for exams despite not being eligible, while others had forged their certificates by colluding with staff members at universities.

Among the cases reported in the media are that of Mombasa County Governor Hassan Joho, who is accused of forging his Certificate of Secondary Education to enable him join the University of Nairobi. He is also accused of obtaining a fake degree certificate from the same university.

Taita-Taveta County Governor-elect Granton Samboja is battling a case in court for having allegedly forged a degree certificate from Kenyatta University. The university has denied he was ever a student at the institution, the implication being that he presented a forged certificate during the 8 August election.

In another case, Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi was charged on 7 October in a Nairobi court with possessing a forged diploma certificate in business management, allegedly issued by the Kenya Institute of Management.