By Shalom Kasim
I am deeply concerned about the recent decision to suspend the evaluation and accreditation of degree certificates from Benin Republic and Togo. While the government’s response is rooted in addressing certificate racketeering, we must consider the human angle of this situation.
The investigative report sheds light on a complex issue, revealing the existence of a certificate racketeering syndicate. However, the decision to suspend accreditation without a thorough examination of the circumstances surrounding each certificate undermines the educational pursuits of countless genuine students who earned their degrees legitimately.
It is crucial to acknowledge that not all degrees from these countries are tainted by fraudulent activities. Suspending the evaluation of all certificates casts a shadow of doubt on the entire academic community of Benin Republic and Togo, impacting innocent graduates who have worked diligently to obtain their qualifications.
Furthermore, the collateral damage extends to Nigerians who pursued education in these countries in good faith. Many students choose international institutions for various reasons, seeking diverse educational experiences and opportunities. The blanket suspension risks penalizing these students unfairly.
Instead of a sweeping suspension, a more targeted and nuanced approach should be adopted. Investigative efforts should focus on identifying and penalizing those responsible for the racketeering, rather than punishing an entire academic system. Collaborative efforts between the involved countries, educational institutions, and regulatory bodies can ensure a fair and just resolution.
The decision to involve multiple ministries, security agencies, and internal administrative processes may prolong the resolution, causing unnecessary delays for genuine graduates awaiting accreditation for employment or further studies.
In addressing the issue of degree mills, it is essential to differentiate between reputable institutions and those engaging in fraudulent activities. The global problem of diploma mills requires a coordinated effort, but caution must be exercised to protect the interests of legitimate students and educational institutions.
While the government’s intention to curb certificate racketeering is commendable, the suspension of degree accreditation should be approached with a balanced and targeted strategy. Failing to do so risks harming the futures of countless deserving individuals who pursued their education in good faith.
Someone reminded me the Minister of Education is a professor. I said, “yes, yes.”.
Kasim is public affairs commentator, a poet and a journalist. He writes from Wukari, Taraba State, Middle Belt Nigeria