Education quality assurer Umalusi is concerned about the mushrooming of bogus online schools and reported cases of fake certificates sold to the public.
Umalusi is SA’s council for quality assurance in education. It is responsible for the replacement of the Senior Certificate (SC) and National Senior Certificate (NSC).
In a statement, the education body says it is working with the South African Police Service on various cases of unaccredited institutions that have admitted students into non-existing programmes.
These sham institutions circulate fake Umalusi accreditation certificates, or fake e-mails purporting to be accredited by Umalusi.
According to Umalusi CEO Dr Mafu Rakometsi, some institutions issue students with fake letters bearing the Umalusi logo, which are purported to be legitimate registration letters.
“To date, Umalusi has not accredited any online school to offer any of its qualifications,” he says. “In the same vein, Umalusi is not aware of any such institution having been registered by any provincial education department.”
ITWeb previously reported that the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns prompted an explosion in bogus online learning programmes in SA and across the globe.
Industry commentators pointed to a regulation gap in SA’s online schooling system as contributing to the increase in unscrupulous institutions locally.
Umalusi also warns members of the public against buying fake certificates that are advertised through various social media platforms.
Rakometsi explains: “Umalusi is the only institution in South Africa that is legislatively mandated to issue certificates of learner achievement in respect of the NSC, SC, NC(V) levels 2-4, N2-N3 and GETC: ABET. No other body or person is allowed to issue any of these certificates.
“The public is warned that the practice of selling and buying fake certificates is a criminal offence, which is punishable by law. Umalusi condemns this fraudulent activity in the strongest possible terms. All employers in the public and private sectors are advised to verify their current or future employees’ qualifications through the agencies that Umalusi has contracts with.”
Umalusi urges the public to visit its website to verify the accreditation status of an independent school or private college.
Furthermore, the public can report any case that involves operating an illegal institution to the relevant provincial education department. The selling and buying of fraudulent certificates can be reported through the toll-free number 0800 408 409 or e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org.