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Friday, May 20, 2022

Legal Link laments on the implications of awarding fake PHD

By Alhaji Haruna Sani

The Executive Director of Legal Link, Rashid Dumbuya, has in a press release issued yesterday 7th March, 2022, explains the possible implications and potential harm that might befall academics in Sierra Leone should the issue of fake Dominion University was not urgently addressed in a holistic way.

He said the ugly state of affairs will have cataclysmic effects on students intending to pursue postgraduate studies outside of Sierra Leone in the not-too distant future.

Just a week ago, social media videos were all over on different platforms about a fake and illegal Dominion Christian University operating at Waterloo issuing a paid-for Honorary Doctorate Degrees and other academic qualifications, with their latest ceremony held on 26th March 2022 with Professor Ezikel H.S Bangura as it founder and proprietor.

The certification was being done under a mango tree in an informal settlement in Waterloo after the initial proposed venue was surveillance by the Sierra Leone Police prior to TEC informing them that the so-called university is an illegal entity and must therefore not go on with their ceremony.

The issue of Dominion University has been used by many Sierra Leoneans as a rib-tickling issue, but Legal Link has considered it otherwise, therefore calling on relevant authorities to take prudent actions in order to prevent such unfortunate event from happening in the country.

Lawyer Rashid Dumbuya in his press release stated that such a negative rumour permeating the electronic, print and social media platforms the world over, universities in the West in particular, will certainly raise unnecessary doubts, questions and suspicions on the certificates and degrees of all intending applicants from Sierra Leone tendered for admission into their institutions of learning.

The Legal Link boss maintained that in some extreme situations, qualified applicants may still be subjected to further examinations or independent assessments before admission or recruitment can be guaranteed.

That kind of treatment, he said would certainly be embarrassing for Sierra Leonean students and may even serve as a disincentive to the pursuit of postgraduate studies outside of Sierra Leone by many people.

He further maintains that an attempt by overseas academic institutions to question the degrees and certificates awarded in Sierra Leone will by extension impugn the integrity of the nation of Sierra Leone and its people.

To salvage the ugly situation, the Legal Link boss recommended for the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) to first apologize to the academic community and the nation as a whole for being cavalier in the execution of its mandate to effectively regulate the operations of tertiary institutions in the country, thus leading to a national embarrassment.

He also urges TEC to further adopt a more proactive approach and increase its speed in dealing with accreditation and applications that come before it from tertiary institutions.

He added that TEC should also endeavor to always make clear to the general public the status of all tertiary institutions in the country, stating those who can and cannot award certificates, degrees or post graduate degrees, noting that Such comprehensive list of tertiary institutions must be kept in TEC’s data base and published annually in the Commission’s website to circumvent the challenges of access to information by the public.

Lawyer Rashid also recommended for defaulting tertiary institutions to be to be properly dealt with and openly reprimanded by TEC either by way of suspension, withdrawal of license and accreditations, nullification of degrees awarded and or the taking of prosecutorial actions against them.

That the Ministry of Technical and Higher Education should ensure to provide effective oversight on TEC and work with the Commission in a more collaborative way to enhancing quality assurance and standards within the operations of tertiary institutions in the country.

That the government of Sierra Leone should ensure that TEC is provided with adequate manpower, skills and resources to be effective in the discharge of its mandate over tertiary institutions in the country among others.

He blames the problem on the outright failure of oversight institutions to effectively carry out their mandate in ways that will help sanitize the academic environment and ensure quality education in the country.

Civil Society boss said TEC was established through an Act of Parliament to carry out a sacred function within the academic landscape in Sierra Leone.

He also blames TEC for failing in its regulatory and oversight function regarding the curtailing of facade tertiary institutions in the country

it stands to reason that not much can be truly accounted for by the TEC in terms of effectively regulating the operations of mushroom colleges/ universities and their awarding of Mango Tik’ degrees to gullible buyers in the country.

If in two years, the TEC is seen unable to make a concrete determination as to whether a tertiary academic institution should or should not be accredited.

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