It seems a tad bizarre that the Department of Education has proposed a new bill, which calls for a clampdown on so-called educational institutions that issue fake qualifications. Not that we have anything against these establishments being targeted. However, surely an institution either meets the legal criteria as set out by the Department, or it doesn’t. Why would a special bill be required for this?
None the less, one cannot help feeling that the state of tertiary education in South Africa stands at a significant crossroads. With no end in sight to the #FeesMustFall fiasco, the global ratings for South African universities are now in free-fall. Disgraceful and sickening when you consider that these venues were once amongst the finest in the world, and sought out by academics the world over. Those days are certainly at an end. But can we blame these protesters entirely for merely coming to collect on more unkept promises compliments of the presiding regime? With South African universities, no longer a feasible option for anyone who is serious about getting an education, it’s no wonder that alternative and often dubious organisations are cashing in.
I do question however, whether someone who obtains a fake degree from a degree mill, is ignorant to the fact that their qualification isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. However, there may in fact be a few unlucky individuals who are unwittingly swindled.
At its core, the bill will require any educational institution that provides its graduating students with a qualification at the end of their studies to be registered and accredited to do so. All certificates and diplomas, must registered with the National Qualifications Framework (NQF), and recognised by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) or any other foreign qualifications authority.
But while the government is on a crusade to repair the reputation of the local tertiary education sector, it would perhaps be the perfect opportunity to do some introspective ‘house-cleaning’. A seemingly endless number of high profile individuals in the power seats of state-run enterprises have all either been found to have acquired their degrees from institutions that mysteriously don’t exist, or alternatively just padded their CVs with qualifications they never acquired.
A few current examples that spring to mind include the degree-less SABC general executive for corporate affairs, and former chief operating officer, Hlaudi Motsoening with his six-figure salary. Former school teacher and still studying towards her BA for the last few years, SAA’s big boss, Dudu Myeni. Convicted drug smuggler and national embarrassment, the former SA high commissioner to Singapore, Hazel Francis Ngubeni. Minister Blade Nzimande and the Department of Higher Education should perhaps use the potential momentum provided by this new bill to stop the rot from the top.