News: Authority partners with Swiss company SICPA to combat fake higher education credentials

Denkwana Nigusa, deputy director of Education and Training Authority (right), and Matthew West, CEO of SICPA Regional Service (Left) Signing an agreement (Photo: MoTI/Facebook)

Addis Abeba – In an effort to address the prevalent issue of fraudulent higher education credentials, the Ethiopian government has entered into a partnership with Swiss-based company SICPA. The agreement aims to ensure the security and authenticity of certificates issued by higher education institutions in Ethiopia.

As part of the collaboration, SICPA will deploy CERTUS, a digital solution developed by the company. CERTUS enables real-time certification and verification of both digital content and printed documents. According to SICPA’s official website, CERTUS is specifically designed for document issuers such as educational institutions, government entities, and businesses. It provides a fast and secure method for safeguarding printed documents and digital certificates.

The agreement was signed on 08 August, 2023, between Denkwana Nigusa, Deputy Director of the Ethiopian Education and Training Authority, and Matthew West, CEO of SICPA Regional Service. The signing ceremony took place in the presence of Fozia Amin, State Minister for Innovation and Technology.

With a rich history dating back to its establishment in 1927, SICPA will initially supply 4,000 security codes to six selected higher education institutions in Ethiopia for a trial period. These security codes, embedded into the certificates using state-of-the-art QR code technology, will verify the legitimacy of educational credentials. SICPA is also expected to deliver an additional 24,000 security codes to the Education and Training Authority within six months.

In recent years, concerns have been raised regarding the proliferation of counterfeit certificates and degrees. Government officials, including those from the Education and Training Authority and the Ministry of Education, have acknowledged the presence of individuals holding fake degrees in federal government institutions.

Earlier this year, the Education and Training Authority conducted a screening of 18,000 higher education degrees and discovered 921 counterfeit certificates. Ambassador Shiferaw Shigute, the head of the authority, emphasized the need for collaboration between higher learning institutions, government agencies, and employers to combat this issue and prevent the spread of fake education certificates.

The Ministry of Education also announced the discovery of forged educational documents during a recent screening process. Out of 225 documents reviewed upon request from federal government institutions, 40% were found to be fraudulent. The Minister of Education, Berhanu Nega, disclosed this information while presenting a nine-month report to parliament in May 2023. In response to this issue, the ministry has initiated a comprehensive verification process for the educational documents of civil servants, starting within the ministry itself.

Counterfeit educational documents have also been a concern at the regional level. In June 2023, the Southwest Ethiopia Peoples Regional State revealed that it had screened 17,000 employee documents and identified 1,131 as fraudulent. Similar situations have been reported in other regions, such as Amhara, Oromia, and Addis Ababa, where thousands of civil servants were found to possess counterfeit credentials.

During a recent briefing to members of parliament, Minister Berhanu highlighted plans to implement a nationwide system for verifying higher education documents. AS

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