The revelation by the Mail & Guardian newspaper that Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Sicelo Shiceka does not possess the master’s degree in political science that he lays claim to once again highlights the pervasive nature of “problematic” qualifications.
While the minister listed among his qualifications a master’s degree in political economy from the University of the Free State, Free State university spokeswoman Lacea Loader said: “He was registered here from 2004 to 2005 but he never completed the degree.”
Confronted with allegations that this was untrue, Shiceka’s spokesperson, Vuyelwa Qinga-Vika, claimed the minister was still studying for the degree “with a few modules outstanding”.
Ina van der Merwe, CEO of South Africa’s largest background screening company, MIE, said the percentage of fraudulent and fake CVs and qualifications among both government and private sector employees currently stands between 14% and 16%.
“I suspect that given the very tough financial situation we found ourselves in last year, and the first quarter of this year, there might even be a slight rise in the overall percentage of frauds because desperate people will do anything to get appointed to a well paying job even if it means fudging their CVs.”
She said because her company’s proprietary National Qualifications Register (NQR) held all the qualifications of the majority of tertiary educational institutions in the country, it was a simple matter to verify whether a person actually possessed the degrees or diplomas they claimed to have.
“One telephone call or a fax to us is all it takes and we can usually supply an answer within 24 hours.”
The National Qualifications Register is the only comprehensive source of academic qualifications in South Africa since it contains the graduate records of nearly all premier tertiary training institutions in South Africa.
At the same time the Police Ministry has announced it will intensify its operations to crack down on bogus institutions of higher learning.
Police have recently arrested the directors of four Gauteng Centres – the Victory Training College, the Shepperd Academy, the Health Academy Institution and the Centre College of Business and Computer Studies.
The institutions were not properly registered and their directors now face up to 10 years imprisonment, as well as fines of around R250 000.
The Police Ministry’s Zweli Mnisi said parents need to be cautious of opportunists offering degrees and diplomas through organisations which do not have the necessary qualifications.
“We also call upon the parents to be more vigilant in their kids’ enrollment and to just make sure before they enroll them they do set out and research whether they are registered with the department of education,” said Mnisi.