Minister defends his PhD The minister for East African Cooperation, Dr Diodorus Kamala, yesterday defended his doctorate degree in the wake of reports that a number of ministers and MPs have dubious academic qualifications. Dr Kamala acquired his doctorate degree from the Commonwealth Open University, which the Tanzania Commission for Universities (TCU) does not recognise. "It's true that I got my PhD from the Commonwealth Open University, which is recognised by the UK Naric," the minister told The Citizen by telephone. UK Naric is Britain's national agency which provides information and advice on�vocational, academic and professional skills and qualifications from all over the world. Dr Kamala's statement came just days after TCU reiterated that Tanzanians should be wary of universities abroad offering distance learning courses, saying most of them were non-existent. While Dr Kamala defended his academic credentials, the deputy minister for Defence and National Service, Dr Emmanuel Nchimbi, whose curriculum vitae posted on the parliament website shows that he too got his PhD from the Commonwealth Open University, declined to comment on the issue. Dr Nchimbi said when reached by telephone that he was not ready to comment on anything other than defence and national service matters. "I'm attending a soccer match. If you want to talk to me make sure it is about my ministry and not anything else," he said. Dr Kamala said he was "deeply disappointed" with TCU's stance, but added that he had not committed any criminal offence like forging a certificate. "My brother, I know that forgery is a criminal offence. I haven't forged certificates for my doctorate," he said. He said the system used in the United Kingdom was different from the one used in the US and even Tanzania, noting that whereas others spent most of their time in lecture rooms, "I did my PhD through coursework and research." He added: "You don't have to sit in a lecture room fulltime to obtain a PhD. It also depends on what field you pursue your PhD in," Dr Kamala said. He stressed that distance learning was not a new or bizarre thing, adding that he was currently undertaking another doctorate programme at Mzumbe University through distance learning. "I'm in my second year, and things are going on smoothly," he said. When asked why he had decided to join Mzumbe University for a second PhD, Dr Kamala said education had no end and that there was no need to inform the public when he enrolled. Dr Kamala said the university from which he obtained his first doctorate degree was genuine and "it is entirely another matter when TCU says it does not recognise it." Eight ministers and several MPs have reportedly acquired dubious degrees from foreign institutions that are not recognised internationally. They include the Commonwealth Open University where Dr Kamala and Dr Nchimbi acquired their doctorate degrees, according to their CVs on the parliament website. TCU has already warned Tanzanians to be on the lookout for foreign institutions offering "bogus" degrees.The TCU executive secretary, Prof Mayunga Nkunya, has advised Tanzanians seeking degrees abroad to first check with his commission on the status of universities they intend to join. He said that Tanzanians could also check with Tanzanian embassies in countries where such institutions claim to be based. After TCU listed the Commonwealth Open University as among institutions it does not recognise, Dr Kamala referred The Citizen to the UK Naric website which shows the agency has registered over 20 universities, including the Commonwealth Open University. The list also includes the London Reading College (UK), London School of Business (UK), London School of Law (UK), American University of London (UK), ST. Albert's College & Graduate School (USA), Daffodil International University (Bangladesh) and Corporation of Executives and Administrators (UK). UK Naric also recognises the World Information Distribution University (Belgium), University of Enterprise (Ghana), University of NorthWest (USA), European Continental University (USA), British American University (USA), University College of Hospitality & Care (USA), International Board of Registered Chaplains, Mental Health Therapists & Practitioners (USA) and London Executive Schools (UK).