News clipping – The Mercury – 19 October 2010

Fake teachers cheated pupils

School pupils in KwaZulu-Natal, have been taught for several years by people with fake degrees and qualifications. An education expert says the effect of children being taught by under-qualified teachers would be felt for years.

The Education Department announced yesterday that it had dismissed 53 employees it found guilty of submitting fake education qualifications, a scam that cost the department R14 million in inflated salaries it should not have paid.

The fake qualifications were discovered after an internal control and risk management exercise conducted by the department earlier this year. The results of the exercise prompted the department to embark on a headcount of all its employees, as part of a programme to identify employees with fraudulent qualifications. More than 100 000 workers were covered in the investigation.

The department’s superintendent-general, Cassius Lubisi, said 56 employees initially faced charges of misconduct relating to fake qualification. However, three had since died.

In an attempt to rid itself of bogus employees, in 2006 the department opened an amnesty period for employees who had submitted CVs with bogus qualifications.
“Those who failed to come forward are now facing the consequences,” said Lubisi.

Most cases were concentrated in the department’s largely rural northern KZN cluster.

Lubisi said the financial loss suffered by the department was immeasurable compared to how the education of hundreds of children had been compromised as a result.
“The department has suffered huge financial losses, with an estimated R14 million (paid) from March 2004 to August last year because of this fraud. This has dire consequences for the department, considering that some officials were holders of critical teaching posts, as the majority were school-based educators. These individuals not only defrauded the department of millions of rands…they gambled with the future of many children, the majority of whom come from the most disadvantaged rural areas, “ he said.

Lubisi said the matter had been handed to the police and the individuals concerned would be charged with fraud. The department would try to recover the R14 million.

Mthokozisi Miya, owner of Makhawini Recruitment Agency, said the government often fell into the “fake CV trap” because nepotism played a big role in how people were employed. He said it was important for employers to double-check the credentials on CVs before making appointments.
“With the government, recruitment is all about who you know…But it’s not only government that gets caught in this trap – even big corporations fall into it. It’s important to check if the credentials on a CV are valid,” he said.

Education analyst Kobus Maree said the effects of such scams were felt for years.
“The children will acquire a backlog in terms of how they learn…In isolated cases, pupils will achieve, but in most cases they won’t,” he said.

By Sinegugu Ndlovu