Certificates for sale By Mkinga Mkinga , the Citizen 26 September Do you want an 'original' national school examination certificate without having to sweat for it in an exam room? It's possible, The Citizen can reveal today. The brains behind this racket, which enables people who may have failed their examinations or who never even made it beyond primary school to acquire Ordinary and Advanced Level certificates, are doing lucrative business in Dar es Salaam. The well-established syndicate selling �original� and fake academic certificates rakes in millions of shillings every month. Key to the syndicate are some wayward staff of the National Examination Council of Tanzania (Necta) and brokers, who link them to prospective clients. It takes about a month from the time contact is made to when the client takes delivery of the brand new certificate. However, one of the racketeers said the process could be speeded up if one is willing to part with more money. Attempts to obtain comments from the Necta executive secretary, Dr Joyce Ndalichako, and other high-ranking officials in Dar es Salaam failed. They were said to be busy with the Standard Seven national examinations and would only have time to discuss the allegations once the exercise is completed. In a two-month long investigation, The Citizen made contact and obtained an �original� Advanced Level Secondary Education (Form Six) certificate from Necta, and the whole deal cost Sh300, 000. The money was paid in two equal instalments, before and after delivery of the document. The certificate, delivered by one of the middleman to this reporter in Dar es Salaam, bears the names and the subject grades I had wanted. I had asked to be issued with the certificate in the name of the school I attended in Kagera Region, but was told that they didn�t have it in stock but would give me another equally good school. The certificate shows that I sat my Form Six examination at Jitegemee Secondary School in Dar es Salaam in 2004, and scored a Division Two of 10 points, the highest, in the national examination, assuring me of automatic admission to a public university. The certificate, No.0174631, shows that I scored three Principal passes � �B� in History, �E� in Geography, �C� in English Language and a subsidiary in General Studies. The contact told The Citizen not to worry as the person who had originally been issued with that certificate was dead, and that they had replaced his name with mine. The syndicate, according to our findings, earns the crooks at least Sh4 million a month. Our contact appears to live well and drives a neat Toyota Cresta GX 100 saloon car. Charges for the certificates range from as low as Sh300,000 up to Sh1.5 million per certificate, with the money being shared between the Necta linkmen and the masterminds behind the racket. The amount rises depending on the pass mark and urgency with which one wants the document. The findings of our investigation tend to vindicate the growing concern among the public and in academic circles that many people are taking shortcuts to obtain fake or stolen certificates to gain entry to university or land plum jobs in banks and other private companies and parastatals. The ease with which we obtained the certificate would explain the numerous cases of forged academic certificates that have been exposed during admissions to universities and colleges and also at work places. Our findings come barely two weeks since Necta announced that some 6,000 certificates had been stolen from their offices. "In a month I can earn Sh4 million because there is a high demand for these documents. I know it is risky but you have to know we are in a town and anything is possible," the middleman said. Asked the kind of people who approach him for help, he said; "I am like a doctor. I do not discuss clients and they see me when they are in need or send others to me." Before committing themselves to a prospective client, the syndicate runs a thorough check to establish that they are dealing with a person who is genuinely in need of the papers. In our case, three different people were sent to test us before contact was made with the Necta linkmen. We were told we could get the certificate under three weeks if we had Sh500, 000 but the price was negotiated to Sh300, 000. The providers inside Necta, according to the middlemen, have a data bank for details on former candidates who has since died or unallocated index numbers, to which they attach the names of their clients. They also make use of certificates that are never collected by the owners. "With our friends at Necta, it is easy to process and issue certificates as they know what to do to ensure that our �customer� does not experience any difficulties." No receipts were issued during the transaction, just a word of trust. According to the racketeers, some people ask for fake certificates, which are easier to forge and are usually charged at lower rates. But according to them, clients wishing to apply for admission to the public universities ask for �genuine� certificates. In May, Dr Ndalichako told a press conference in Dar es Salaam that of the 8,421 students who sat for the Grade A teachers� exams countrywide, 529 had their results cancelled because their secondary school certificates were found to be fake. Besides the racket in fake certificates, the council is also grappling with the problem of cheating in national examinations. In a teachers� college in Tanga, 405 of 658 candidates who enrolled for studies in 2006, were found to have uttered fake documents. Vetting carried out at Kange Teachers' Training College found that the 405 candidates had presented fake certificates to register for the national Grade 'A' teachers� certificate course. Of these, 83 used the certificates of students who had passed the O-Level examination and been admitted to Form Five for Advanced Level education. Last week, eight employees of the Bank of Tanzania were charged in a Dar es Salaam court with using forged certificates to obtain jobs. They denied the charges and were granted bail.