The government has announced plans to crack down on civil servants holding fake academic credentials.
The Kenya National Qualifications Authority (KNQA) is targeting about 250,000 after a preliminary assessment established that three in every 10 civil servants may have used fake certificates to gain employment in public service.
KNQA director-general Dr Juma Mukhwana said the certificate cheats will not only be axed but will be fined heavily and prosecuted.
“This audit is a programme that will start as soon as the next financial year. If we find that you used a fake certificate to get employment in civil service, then you are liable to return what you have earned all those years, three-fold. You are also liable to criminal prosecution,” said Juma.
He said KNQA will partner with the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to weed out the culprits.
The State agencies will cross-check employee’s stated qualifications, their certificates, and institutions from where they obtained them.
“Our estimate is that 30 per cent of the certificates are fake. It is very unfair that I sit in a university for four years, and someone else just gets a similar certificate in five minutes. You even find some cases where one has a degree purported to have been acquired long before he supposedly cleared his secondary education,” Mukhwama said on Wednesday.
He was speaking on the sidelines of a conference on the research and innovation for sustainable development at the Eldoret National Polytechnic.
Additionally, the agency tasked with vetting academic certificates has developed an anonymous portal where members of the public service and any other Kenyan can report those they suspect of holding fake certificates.
“You can anonymously report that your fellow co-employee has a fake certificate and we shall take it up. You don’t have to reveal yourself and that is why we need collaborative mechanisms to end this menace in our country,” said Dr Mukhwana.
KNQA categorizes fake certificates in three phases: Those earned from institutions not accredited to offer one; those where one did not meet the entry requirements of the certificate, and lastly, those that the person never went to the university or college at all.
“You have cases where someone claims to have a university degree from outside Kenya, yet they have never owned a passport. So, how did you get your certificate from that university abroad, then? Those kinds of things where no online learning was involved. Or sometimes you have a passport, but no study visa. Same thing. How then were you there for four years with no visa?” Dr Mukhwana posed.
The government currently spends up to Sh620 billion to pay 842,000 civil servants every year.