The Zimbabwe Information and Communication Technologies (ZICT) is setting up a database of bonafide degree holders in the country as a way of protecting locals from falling for fake qualifications.
The portal will also expose bogus degree holders and online portals that offer fake academic qualifications.
Zimbabwe’s highly esteemed university education standards suffered a massive blow in 2014 when the then first lady Grace Mugabe was awarded a PhD by the University of Zimbabwe, under unclear circumstances.
In the same year, music superstar Oliver Mtukudzi and other influential personalities including former Zimbabwe Revenue Authority boss Gershem Pasi, United International Family Church’s Ruth Makandiwa, wife to Prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa among others, were awarded honorary doctorate degrees by the little-known International Institute of Philanthropy (IIP).
“The ZICT central database will help to clamp down on imposters bearing bogus qualifications of diplomas and degrees from universities world and will also provide a list of bogus universities to protect Zimbabwe’s prospective students,” the organisation’s spokesperson Engineer Kudzayi Mutisi said.
There are sites which are offering fake University of Zimbabwe degree certificates.
The ZICT diploma and degree central database will be modelled in the same format as the United Kingdom Higher Education Degree Datacheck (HEDD).
Engineer Mutisi also warned that there is a mushrooming of bogus colleges and universities in Africa, Europe, South America and China.
“Zimbabweans are a well-educated lot, forcing others into degree fraud in order to enter the competitive job market. Degree fraud includes getting bogus universities and degree mills, fake certificate websites and fraud by false representation.
“Bogus universities and degree mills operate purely to make money, from enrolment fees, premium phone lines, course fees and ‘life experience degree’ awards, and in doing so provide a means for fraudsters to obtain authentic-looking degrees and associated documentation from unaccredited institutions
“This type of fraud is becoming more sophisticated, with credible websites and verification services often modelled on their authentic counterparts, including the direct lifting of content and sections of material from genuine university websites,” said Engineer Mutisi.