Qualifications authority steps up war on fake grades

Juma Mukhwana

Kenya National Qualifications Authority Director-General Juma Mukhwana

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Graduates who studied abroad will be required to seek the approval of the authority before applying for a job.
  • Previously, universities had their own qualification guidelines for foreign student applicants.

Students with foreign academic certificates and those from international schools will have to be cleared by the Kenya National Qualifications Authority (KNQA) before being admitted to local universities and colleges.

Equally, graduates who studied abroad will be required to seek the approval of the authority before applying for a job.

The agency has opened an online platform through which students will apply for recognition, equation and verification of their national and foreign qualifications in a move intended to weed out fake and dubious school certificates.

“There have been cases of students joining local universities without having attained the equivalent grade from foreign or international schools,” KNQA Director General Juma Mukhwana said at his office Tuesday.

Previously, universities had their own qualification guidelines for foreign student applicants.

No clear guidelines

Dr Mukhwana said lack of clear guidelines and an authority on standards meant the institutions ended up admitting unqualified people.

“Universities misled students as there was no central agency that could qualify and equate the grades,” he said.

Some 21 law students filed a case in court three years ago following the rejection of their undergraduate degrees by the Kenya School of Law.

The institution says the students did not meet the relevant grades equivalent to the minimum C+ cut-off in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education examination.

The students had studied under the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) in Kenya while others went to high school in Uganda.

The authority says students who do not meet the required grades to join university should go back to high school.

“Foreign students do not qualify for university degrees in Kenya if they do not meet the minimum grades to join university in their country,” Dr Mukhwana said.

Foreign qualifications

Kenya receives at least 30,000 applications from students with foreign qualifications seeking to be admitted to local universities and colleges every year.

Dr Mukhwana added that learners in international schools must sit the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) examinations to qualify for university admission.

“If you are taking a British qualification, for instance, you must do IGSE “O” and “A” level and must obtain three principle Cs to be admitted to a local university,” Dr Mukhwana said.

The agency, which was formed in 2015, has been charged with coordinating and harmonising education, training, assessment and quality assurance of qualifications awarded locally.

Its main objective is improving quality and international comparability.

Dr Mukhwana said the authority also promotes the African free continental policy that makes it easy for students from foreign countries to study in Kenya.

He added that the agency is part of an international network of institutions whose work is to ensure only students with legitimate certificates are admitted to universities and colleges.

Dr Mukhwana said KNQA works closely with the African Qualifications Verifications Network.

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