Khaye Nkwanyana writes that dodgy qualifications tend to fall within one of three streams
Both the public and private sector must audit and confront those with fake qualifications.
The recent revelations of high profiled South Africans as having fake qualifications has caused much serious consternation in our country. These media exposures came in the heels of the similar revelations of various public figures last year reported as in possession of the fake qualifications. The Minister of Higher education and Training, Dr Blade Nzimande, immediately directed the Department and SAQA to develop a national register and to seek a legal advice on the implications of instituting fraud charges against these persons.
As a response to minister's directives in November last year, SAQA started developing a national register which will record all those South Africans confirmed as having fake qualifications. Details are being developed in the context of various considerations and circumstances under which other people may be in this status. These situations present themselves in couple of streams:
There are those who consciously buy or acquire these qualifications from international Universities that are not legitimate. They pursue this route as short-cuts to avoid a long and tortuous process of studying and a risk of failing. These are individuals who are so intent on rising to positions of influence using these qualifications to prop up their career pathways.
The second stream is those who innocently enrol to these Universities without doing some due diligence in establishing their legitimate status.
The last element is those who either enrol and fail or deregister but in the Curriculum Vitae claim to be in possession of those qualifications.
Minister Nzimande has called for all employers to audit the qualifications of their employees starting from the executive level to the lowest worker. Both the public and private sector must undertake this exercise in order to rid our country and our workplaces of people in occupancy of positions through misrepresentation. The Minister instructed SAQA to begin by his Department to audit all qualifications of the employees as from last year.
Government is extremely worried about this reality and as a line Department we are concerned about the potential depth with which this might have sunken, for years, undetected. The Department is concern about the international perception and reputation with which qualified South African persons will be second-guessed for any considerations because of this factor.
Confronting this problem, including the closing down of bogus Colleges, is an effort by the Department to preserve the integrity of our Post-School Education and Training qualifications. We have opened more than 39 fraud cases against bogus Colleges operating in various towns and big Cities of our country.
A bogus College cannot offer an accredited programmes because the starting point is its registration. Anyone studying in an unregistered College is guaranteed to acquire a fake qualification. We have made a call for people to call the Department to check the status of any private College before enrolling.
The fight against fake qualifications must be a duty for both government and private employers. The rot that this represents is not so deep as to be insurmountable.
Khaye Nkwanyana is the Media Liaison Officer for the Minister for Higher Education and Training.