Forged certificates

2009-01-19 00:00

Even before the issuing of official documents, fake matric certificates have appeared, and in large numbers. As with counterfeit driver’s licences, it seems that forgers equipped with sophisticated modern technology can quite readily produce a convincing facsimile of the real thing. It might be thought that a youngster seeking work with a bogus certificate is less of a danger than an incompetent driver on a public road, but that notion bears examination.

Is this perhaps yet another sign that a culture of corruption and dishonesty is taking hold in this society? In some quarters it seems to be taken for granted that if one cannot earn a qualification, buying a fake document — be it a phoney degree off the Internet or a faked matric certificate — is a perfectly acceptable alternative. In much the same way, there are politicians who apparently have no qualms about using their patronage to get their friends and relations into posts for which they are not qualified.

And, as with the dumbing down of the curriculum and the “pass-one, pass-all” attitude that has at times been prevalent, the assumption that just having the certificate is good enough is both flawed and dangerous. It releases into the job market, or into further education, people who simply cannot do what is required and ultimately either they or the whole community must suffer. It signals, moreover, a lack of respect for the learning and the gaining of skills that underpins competence. If this attitude takes general hold, the whole quality of community life must inevitably degenerate.

It is already evident that without competent people in the right places, service delivery creaks and the infrastructure crumbles. This nation is starting to insist on its right to effective delivery in all fields and the key to this is to inculcate a culture of learning and to demand that certificates are a true reflection of the capabilities that they claim to represent. Knowledge is indeed power, but using a falsified certificate to fake competence ultimately disempowers everyone.

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