Tackle certificate forgery menace once and for all

Two recent court rulings underscore the need to rid the public service of individuals who gained employment using forged academic certificates. Last week, the Court of Appeal upheld the dismissal of Abdi Mohamed Daib from service at the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) after it was discovered he used forged certificates to gain employment. Daib was dismissed in 2015 after working for 20 years.

Similarly, a Principal Magistrate's court in Nairobi sentenced Robert Githongo, a former Kiamwangi Ward MCA in Kiambu County, to four years' imprisonment with the option of a Sh500,000 fine for forging a KCSE certificate, last week.

Shockingly, a report released by Kenya National Qualifications Authority (KNQA) last year showed that almost 30 per cent of civil servants got jobs using forged academic certificates. Further, KNQA estimated that one in every three academic certificates is fake. Evidently, some individuals cheat to meet a constitutional requirement that attaches a specific academic threshold to certain public offices.

Concerns raised over the magnitude of forgery recently compelled the Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission to issue a warning to government institutions and recruitment authorities in the public sector to verify academic certificates. Needless to emphasise, universities must guard against having their reputations being tainted by fake documents bearing their names. We cannot belabour the fact that fake certificates erode the statuses of our institutions of higher learning.

As it were, fake degrees have allowed clueless individuals to secure jobs they are ill-equipped to execute. This is manifested in the level of incompetence and poor service provision in public offices. Those who forge certificates belittle the value of education and genuine degrees for which others have toiled for, but are unable to secure employment because fraudsters beat them to available job opportunities.

Ridding the public service of fraudsters must be prioritised by institutions charged with that responsibility. Meritocracy should be the beacon in public appointments to eradicate the mediocrity that assails our public sector. Individuals behind syndicates that deal in forged certificates should be rounded up and punished.