Forged aca­demic de­grees scan­dal

Kuwait Times - - LOCAL - By Ahmad Al-Sar­raf

Few are those who were not an­gry or ashamed to­wards what I men­tioned in a pre­vi­ous col­umn about the eth­i­cal scan­dal re­lated to the forged aca­demic de­grees. The scan­dal of aca­demic de­grees at all lev­els is not new, as thou­sands had re­ceived jobs in the mil­i­tary and other jobs while only hav­ing a mid­dle school cer­tifi­cate as their high­est aca­demic qual­i­fi­ca­tion. Many were pro­moted with a forged high school de­gree, and forgery also hit BA, Mas­ter’s and PhD de­grees, par­tic­u­larly in the ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing sec­tors.

I learnt about the prob­lem like oth­ers in the 1960s, when we used to see those who never left Kuwait and were not known for their ge­nius re­ceiv­ing PhD de­grees, es­pe­cially from Egypt, in­clud­ing a for­mer un­der­sec­re­tary and some ed­u­ca­tors along with oth­ers who did not harm any­one be­cause they worked in the pri­vate sec­tor.

We all re­mem­ber, un­til re­cently, that some ‘dig­ni­taries’ and MPs meet­ing with se­nior state of­fi­cials, and tak­ing pic­tures with them on the oc­ca­sion of re­ceiv­ing post­grad­u­ate de­grees. Most of them did know how to pro­nounce the name of the univer­sity from which they bought the de­gree! We, of course, can­not for­get the scan­dal that was un­cov­ered by the New York Times in May 2015, which I pre­vi­ously wrote about, in­volv­ing a Pak­istani com­pany con­victed for sell­ing thou­sands of univer­sity de­grees in­clud­ing Mas­ter’s and PhDs in the name of pres­ti­gious Amer­i­can uni­ver­si­ties and has stamp ap­provals of univer­sity pres­i­dents and of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing the US Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry. The com­pany gained huge amounts of money out of that; es­pe­cially from na­tion­als in Africa, Asia, and the Ara­bian Gulf in par­tic­u­lar, and the names of many of them were pub­lished then. How­ever, I do not re­mem­ber that the ed­u­ca­tion min­istry made a move to­wards that.

It was nice for the Na­tional Assem­bly to ask for the ed­u­ca­tion and higher ed­u­ca­tion min­is­ter to hold all those proven to forge their cer­tifi­cates to ac­count; but we all know that prov­ing such charges is a highly com­pli­cated process and re­quires a very long time to ac­com­plish. This is enough for all to for­get the is­sue af­ter be­ing pre-oc­cu­pied with other scan­dals. The mat­ter may end with the con­vic­tion of sev­eral per­sons, and strict ac­tion will be taken against them.

The is­sue is re­ally com­pli­cated, as in ad­di­tion to the high num­bers, and hav­ing names of ‘dig­ni­taries’ in sen­si­tive posts, there are those who stud­ied and re­ceived their de­grees, but from un­rec­og­nized uni­ver­si­ties, that apart from those who re­ceived their de­grees from known uni­ver­si­ties, but those were forged, be­sides those who re­ceived them from nonex­is­tent uni­ver­si­ties to start with.

A trusted friend of mine told me that our em­bassy in Wash­ing­ton pro­posed to the min­istry of ed­u­ca­tion to with­draw some stu­dents from non-rec­og­nized Amer­i­can uni­ver­si­ties and make them join bet­ter uni­ver­si­ties and ex­tend their schol­ar­ships to makeup for the lost pe­riod. Be­cause of the harm the coun­try will re­ceive in the fu­ture, the stu­dents re­main in such bad uni­ver­si­ties, yet the ed­u­ca­tion min­istry re­jected the in­ter­fer­ence of the for­eign min­istry in ed­u­ca­tional mat­ters. The num­ber of those stu­dents was few at the time, but stay­ing silent mul­ti­plied the num­ber much fur­ther. Fi­nally, it is ironic that Kuwait is the only coun­try around the world that has a so­ci­ety for PhD forg­ers, which was formed to lobby the gov­ern­ment into rec­og­niz­ing their cer­tifi­cates.

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