Parliament on Tuesday took strong exception to the proliferation of fake academic qualifications in the country, and agreed on the need to establish a National Qualifications Board to fight the canker.
Mr Peter Nortsu-Kotoe, Ranking Member on Education and MP for Akatsi North, in a statement, on the floor of the House, expressed worry that the craze by some individuals to beat the order of time to acquire fake degrees and other certificates is tarnishing the image of the country.
The mad rush for such fake certificate and other academic qualifications have compelled employers and institutions abroad to severally request the Ministry of Education to authenticate certificates from Ghana.
Mr Nortsu-Kotoe, however pointed out that, the scrutiny on certificates is not the core mandate of the Ministry of Education, and “as such there is the need for the establishment of a National Qualifications Board as in South African and the United Kingdom, which can verify certificates of persons who are returning to Ghana and seeking jobs or those seeking admission into universities in overseas countries.”
According to the lawmaker, less than three per cent, by the figures put out by the Population and Housing Census of 2010, have a first degree or above, and more access is being created for Ghanaians to obtain degrees at various levels, but either some of the institutions or the certificates they award turn out not to be genuine.
He regretted that the confidence in, and the genuineness of Ghanaian certificates is being eroded by the emergence of fake certificates being awarded at various levels, adding that, ”quite a number of people are not ready to study to obtain certificates, but are ready to pay people to write examinations on their behalf or buy fake certificates.
“A few years ago, a verification exercise by the Ghana Education Service revealed that a large number of people got employed with fake certificates,” Mr Nortsu-Kotoe said, and pointed out that “ it was one reason why payment of salaries to teachers stalled.”
Also, a verification request of certificates, in the last few years of the West African Examinations Council by some organisations, proved the alarming rate at which certificates are being faked, with a further revelation by a consultant who worked for the Social Security and National Insurance Trust that there was controversy surrounding the authenticity of certificates.
Also, a recruitment exercise carried by the security agencies last year and this year revealed that a sizeable number of applicants presented fake certificates, even with birth certificates.
The Akatsi North MP suggested to political parties in Ghana to verify various certificates presented by persons seeking political office in that names so that “no embarrassment befalls any party.”
Contributions by members agreed on the need to stem the illegal act. Dr Abdul Rashid Pelpuo, MP for Wa Central urged the National Accreditation Board to put in place measures to check the menace.
Mr Joseph Cudjoe, MP for Efia insisted that employers to do a verification of certificates, as he expressed concern that there are too many fake doctorate certificates in the system.
Minority Chief and MP for Asawase, Alhaji Mohammed Mubarak Muntaka, said the faking of certificates has become a global problem.
He said despite Ghana being a developing country, it is necessary to take the issue more seriously and not only withdraw fake certificates but to criminalise the act and punish offenders accordingly.