Scores of church leaders may be getting a rude awakening as their theological qualifications are revealed to be less worth than the paper they are printed on.
Following a recent investigation by the Department of Higher Education, a total of 53 colleges were singled out by the government for providing less than legitimate qualifications, 21 of these hailed from the religious sector.
Joy Ministries in Germiston, Calvary Life and Christian Life, both in Pretoria, Team Impact and River Bible in East London were named as part of the scam. The common denominator between all of these institutions was revealed to be Calvary University, itself currently under police investigation for the awarding of fraudulent qualifications to South African students.
Investigators revealed that Calvary University was not a recognised degree awarding institution, despite its links to several churches. Students were issued fraudulent certificates that cost as much as R18 000 per qualification.Despite the apparent legitimacy of the institution and its certifications as issued by Calvary University in Chester, UK, degree fraud officials have revealed that the company was never registered in the country.
Calvary University officials have claimed that registration papers for the company are with Blade Ndzimande, the Minister of Higher Education and Training in South Africa. Department spokesperson Khaye Nkwanyana, however, claimed that Calvary University and other similar colleges operating in South Africa are still “a grey area”.
The key issue behind the crisis is based on the lack of regulation and verification of their services, meaning that accredited and verified institutions are losing out to fly-by-night operations that are primarily focused on turning a profit as opposed to providing education.
The fake qualifications debacle is nothing new in South Africa. Over the past three or four years the country has witnessed a steady flow of qualification scandals involving high-profile and state employees.
Last year, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa told Parliament that government was working on a new policy to deal with the problem of fake qualifications. He added that Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande was preparing a proposal on various mechanisms to address the problem as well.
According to government, Nzimande has already requested the South African Qualifications Authority to establish a national register that would list the names of individuals who misrepresented their qualifications and who had invalid qualifications.