Economy

MPs term agency’s role of verifying academic papers as illegal

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A parliamentary session. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NMG

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Summary

  • The National Assembly’s Public Investments Committee (PIC) says the powers that Kenya National Qualification Authority (KNQA) has been using to certify educational qualifications were not approved by Parliament.
  • PIC said the regulations were not approved by the Committee on Delegated Legislation and therefore KNQA has been performing the function illegally.
  • The revelation comes as universities have been put on high alert over the potential acquisition of fraudulent degrees by politicians seeking elective posts ahead of the next General Election.

Parliament has termed the role of a State-owned corporation in verifying academic certificates from local and foreign institutions as illegal.

The National Assembly’s Public Investments Committee (PIC) says the powers that Kenya National Qualification Authority (KNQA) has been using to certify educational qualifications were not approved by Parliament.

PIC said the regulations were not approved by the Committee on Delegated Legislation and therefore KNQA has been performing the function illegally.

The revelation comes as universities have been put on high alert over the potential acquisition of fraudulent degrees by politicians seeking elective posts ahead of the next General Election.

University Education department is concerned about the likelihood of aspirants infiltrating universities to acquire fake degrees as politicians rush to beat the provisions of the Elections Act 2011.

The committee said Parliament ought to have approved the Kenya National Qualifications Framework Regulations as required by the Statutory Instruments Act.

The regulations were published in a gazette notice of 2019 by the Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha but were never tabled in Parliament for scrutiny.

Part III of the Kenya National Qualifications Framework Regulations gives KNQA the authority to recognise, equate and verify national and foreign academic qualifications.

“We are seized of this matter because two institutions have decided to fight each other in court. We have realised that lawyers are making a lot of money based on one State corporation fighting another one in court and this is not a prudent use of public resources,” Abdulswamad Nassir, who chairs PIC said.

KNQA and the Technical and Vocational Training Authority (TVETA) are locked in a court battle over who should certify and harmonise the educational qualifications from within and outside Kenya.

KNQA argues that it has the mandate to advice and support anybody, including TVETA that is responsible for the award of national qualification.

TVETA moved to court and sued KNQA in a bid to wrestle the certification of educational papers from the authority.

Juma Mukhwana, the KNQA director-general told PIC that the authority has been undertaking certification of the academic papers on the strength of the gazette notice.

“This function can only be undertaken by KNQA based on the Act establishing it and the gazette notice published by the Cabinet Secretary.

“In fact, the Cabinet Secretary even prescribed the fees that one must pay to have their papers certified,” Mr Mukhwana told the committee when he appeared before MPs to respond to audit queries.

He said the court battle between KNQA and TVETA is threatening to paralyse certification of nearly 200 academic qualifications that are lodged at the authority on a daily basis.

“We are serving about 200 Kenyans daily. We have students from Uganda and Tanzania coming to us to convert qualifications to study here,” Mr Mukhwana said.

He accused TVETA and the Attorney General’s office for reneging on a memorandum of understanding signed to resolve the stalemate.

“The Attorney-General entered a consent in court alleging that we had agreed on who should do what. It’s curious that he entered into consent without our input,” he said.

Mr Mukhwana said KNQA had filed a protest letter to the Attorney General. He said KNQA had sought the assistance of the Head of Public Service who instead referred the authority to the Attorney-General.

He described the TVETA chief executive as “overzealous and unprofessional and needs to be tamed.”

A petitioner George Bala moved to court claiming that KNQA does not have powers to approve national and foreign qualifications.

He argued that the powers are only vested with the Commission for University Education (CUE) and TVETA.

Justice Anthony Ndung’u on November 17, temporarily stopped KNQA from verifying national and foreign academic qualifications.

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