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Fake certificates: New gadget to catch cheats, fast

A Strathmore University graduate has developed an IT system that can be used to verify academic certificates to curb rampant cheating by job seekers.

Harry Ochieng’, who showcased his invention at this week’s University of Nairobi Innovation Week, says academic cheating infuriates him.

He gets even more incensed that Kenyans who have never been to university can easily forge certificates.

“It makes a mockery of the trouble that other students have to go through,” he says.

For the last two years, Mr Ochieng’ has been building DigiCert to tackle exam cheating and rampant forgery of academic certificates.

It is web-based and can be used to verify academic certificates against an archive provided by higher education institutions in Kenya.

Employers or anyone wishing to verify a certificate will create an account on the DigiCert website.  

In addition, Mr Ochieng’ says the system will track the university officials who have uploaded certificates, therefore cutting down though not eliminating opportunities for tampering.

Mr Ochieng’ was one of the over 150 exhibitors at the just-concluded Nairobi Innovation Week. He says that DigiCert is being tested at Strathmore University.

Ideally, the system that he is designing would interface with a database of degrees that is being built by the Kenya National Qualifications Authority.

The authority started building the database amid ongoing claims and counterclaims that some of the educational qualifications presented by Kenya’s political elite are not genuine. Eventually, even the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission will be given access to the database.

The Nairobi Innovation Week was supposed to showcase innovative solutions to the socio-economic challenges facing Kenya.

The next edition of the innovation week will be on March 5 to 9 next year.

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