Fake it till you make it

African Independent - - OPINION -

THERE are cer­tain dreams we Africans har­bour, and for some they may never ma­te­ri­alise. It is to re­ceive a qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion, and to at­tain a qual­i­fi­ca­tion; a uni­ver­sity de­gree per­haps. Even a PhD.

Zim­bab­weans, ap­par­ently, are ob­sessed with de­grees and ti­tles, and at first glance there is noth­ing wrong with this. With these de­grees comes up­lift­ment of one’s so­cial and fi­nan­cial stand­ing. But the, um, de­gree to which this ob­ses­sion is mo­ti­vat­ing Zim­bab­weans is fright­en­ing. Peo­ple who have not been in­side a uni­ver­sity have been awarded PhDs, and in­sist on be­ing called “doc­tor”.

To meet this de­mand for de­grees uni­ver­si­ties are pop­ping up overnight. Some have even gone in­ter­na­tional, by open­ing of­fices in Zam­bia, the DRC and Mozam­bique.

In all cases, re­cip­i­ents are asked to pay a fee up­front, which ranges from $3 500 to as much as $10 000, os­ten­si­bly to cover grad­u­a­tion and an­cil­lar­ies but in re­al­ity for fi­nan­cial gain. And this is where is gets se­ri­ous. Money, the root of evil in this case, is the mo­tive – and the de­grees are mostly fake. Zim­babwe’s Higher and Ter­tiary Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Pro­fes­sor Jonathan Moyo has warned the gov­ern­ment would in­tro­duce a law to pun­ish peo­ple re­ceiv­ing de­grees from un­ac­cred­ited in­sti­tu­tions.

“Very soon it will be a crim­i­nal of­fence in Zim­babwe to of­fer, seek or re­ceive a fake de­gree or to get one from an un­ac­cred­ited or­gan­i­sa­tion.”

He added the law would be ap­plied ret­ro­spec­tively, which meant sev­eral high-rank­ing gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing min­is­ters, could be ar­rested for pos­sess­ing fake de­grees. This phe­nom­e­non is a sad in­dict­ment on a once proud ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem in Zim­babwe. A sys­tem that was once the pride of Africa.

If not cur­tailed, lives will be ru­ined – or lost.

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