It appears that some Malawians have been brainwashed into the thinking that a high academic qualification is a guaranteed panacea to success and prosperity in life.
Much as education may unlock some opportunities, there is ample evidence that distribution of wealth and success is not only in favour of the most educated.
A couple of months ago, Prof. Danwood Chirwa, Professor of Law at University of Cape Town spilled the beans by exposing some influential people who are possessing fake academic qualifications.
Notable on the list are Ken Zikhale Ng’oma, Henry Kachaje, George Kainja, Collins Magalasi, Kondwani Nankhumwa. This list is not exhaustive.
What motivates people to obtain fake degrees?
There are many motivational factors that have contributed to the rampant proliferation of fake degrees in Malawi.
Fake degree holders still get formal employment opportunities.
First, the Tonse Alliance government has carelessly chosen to recognise fake degrees.
It is worrisome that President Chakwera appointed people with questionable academic qualifications to crucial positions in the society.
For instance, Violet Chakwera, a daughter to President Chakwera, was appointed to a diplomatic position in the United Kingdom.
However, according to her LinkedIn profile, Violet possesses a bachelor’s degree in tourism and travel services management from Amity University.
It is on record that Malawi’s National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) did not accredit Amity University because it fell short of the required standard.
As if this nepotism is not enough, President Chakwera appointed George Kainja, former Inspector General of Malawi Police Service.
George possesses a PhD from a diploma mill l, according to Prof. Danwood Chirwa’s analysis.
Despite the fact that the Office of the Ombudsman faulted the incumbent Chief Executive Officer of the Malawi Energy Regulatory Agency (MERA) for possessing a master’s degree from unaccredited
University, Mr Henry Kachaje is still clinging to the same job for over two years now.
Although Ken Zikhale Ng’oma has not cleared the allegations that he possesses a fake PhD degree, President Chakwera went ahead to appoint him as Minister of Homeland security.
Don’t call them Drs at all
Another motivational factor for escalating fake academic degrees in Malawi is that people who use shortcuts to get fake qualifications are still revered as if they possess genuine ones.
One wonders why a person with a fake PhD is called a Dr.
In fact, attaching the title of Dr. to fake PhD holders such as Kondwani Nankhumwa, Ken Zikhale Ng’oma and many others is a shameful mockery to those who meritoriously achieved it. Vilekeke. This must stop forthwith.
This applies to all honorary doctorate degree holders who are not supposed to change titles.
It sounds awkward when the following titles are attached to their names: Prof. Lazarus Chakwera, Prof.
Gertrude Mutharika, Dr. Bakili Muluzi, Dr. Joyce Banda, Dr. Uladi Mussa, Dr. Patience Namadingo, Dr. Pemphero Mphande, Dr. Patricia Kaliati and many more.
From now onwards, stop changing titles of people who have honorary doctorate degrees. Vilekeke.
How to detect fake degrees
Individual academic progression
If you hear someone who has no first degree boasting about possessing a PhD, it is an indicator ofsomething bogus.
For instance, Kondwani Nankhumwa has not cleared his name over allegations that he used Malawi School Certificate of Education certificate of his deceased brother. Yet now he brags about possessing a PhD.
College or university accreditation
It is also important to cross-check if the college or university that offered a degree is an accredited academic institution.
For instance, Amity University, Jerusalem University and Cyprus International university have not been accredited by NCHE in Malawi.
Period of study
Bogus degrees usually take a shorter time to complete.
For instance, PhD studies usually take 3 years. However, Kondwani Nankhumwa claims to have done data collection, data analysis and thesis writing in only three months.
Depth and breadth of the course content
Genuine degree programs normally take longer to complete because relevant course contents must be
rigorously covered and examined.
Bogus degrees usually cost a substantial amount of money because diploma mills which sell degrees focus on making money rather than on offering quality education services.
Most diploma mills have no physical offices. Even if you try to check them on their website, the information they provide is usually equivocal and misleading.
a) There must be collaboration among government, private sector, and academic institutions to
curb proliferation of fake degrees.
b) Higher education institutions should develop a regulatory and evaluation framework to flash out
fake degrees when recruiting both staff and students.
c) The general public should be sensitised on the merits of pursuing only accredited programs in accredited institutions.
d) All employees and new recruits must submit their academic certificates to NCHE and Malawi National Examination Board for verification. Appropriate action including dismissal must be
taken against the culprits.
e) NCHE should irregularly publish a list of accredited colleges and universities