Kenya: New Portal to Curb Academic Dishonesty

The pace to rid the country of fake certificates is quickly gathering momentum with 74 public universities registering to list their graduates in a central database that will lock out academic cheats.

The registration exercise by the institutions to be considered as Qualifications Awarding Institutions will close on September 30.

The universities are expected to register the qualifications they award, followed by registration of the graduates on the Kenya National Learner's Records Database by December 1 this year. The database will display all records of graduates from primary school to university level.

Speaking during a consultative meeting with the Auditor General, Nancy Gathungu, on July 22, the Kenya National Qualifications Authority (KNQA) chair, Dr Kilemi Mwiria, explained that the authority intends to ensure that people seeking employment have genuine academic documents.

"It's important that institutions fast track the process for compliance and progression of the country agenda in advancing development with the correct human resource with genuine papers in an effort to restore integrity for all holders of public and private offices," said Dr Mwiria.

Present genuine papers

"We should work on a memorandum of understanding on how best we can work together," Ms Gathungu added, and advised job applicants to present genuine papers, warning that action will be taken against those in employment who will be found in possession of fake papers.

"We don't want people who are not qualified to be working as doctors, policemen and on areas of intelligence because if the documents are not genuine, it indicates that they were acquired for a purpose to sabotage the system," said Ms Gathungu.

"What KNQA is doing is of national and security interest, so we need a memorandum of understanding. Once it is in place, my office will seek the help of KNQA in vetting job applicants," she added.

The authority will employ a multi layered approach set in place to reduce opportunities and access points for hackers to ensure that only authorised users are authenticated to access the data. A portal will also be opened for members of the public to verify their qualifications. In case of mismatch or any other form of discrepancy, such cases may be reported to the institutions, which will have the rights to correct such anomalies.

The authority noted that institutions in rural areas that have no electricity or internet connectivity will also benefit as 'Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Corporation and Ministry of ICT intend to connect electricity to all learning institutions, and the connection of all learning institutions to the national fiber grid.

Fake academic documents

As the institutions start sending in their data, the authority says it has put mechanisms in place to ensure data verification and integrity.

A recent report from KNQA reveals that one in every three Kenyans holds fake academic documents.

On July 8, Abdalla Mohamed, a candidate who had been shortlisted for a commissioner's job at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission was forced to withdraw from the interviews after the Kenya Methodist University disowned his degree.

Early this year, the Directorate of Criminal Investigations, which started a crackdown on fake certificate holders in formal jobs, has indicated that they will partner with the KNQA to uncover the fraudsters.

mchelangat@ke.nationmedia.com

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