Tyronne Reid, Senior Staff Reporter
While officials at the Caribbean Examination Council's (CXC) Jamaica office were stumped by news that crooks were illegally reproducing its preliminary results slip, its local representative - the Overseas Examinations Commission (OEC) - sounded the alarm on its website some time ago.
The commission had long ago noted that it had observed a spike in the number of falsified academic documents making the rounds.
On its website under the caption 'verification of results' the OEC warned that "with the advancement of technology" it has "seen an increase in the reproduction and presentation of 'authentic looking documents' by fraudulent persons".
In the meantime, Dr Elaine Wallace, registrar of the University of Technology (UTech), told The Sunday Gleaner that her team has been presented with falsified documentation in the past from persons seeking to pursue a degree at that tertiary institution.
"I would say yes, but I can't say how many and when (but) that sort of a thing has come across our desk," she said.
Wallace explained that UTech has an arrangement with the CXC office that allows it to verify results, especially if a document appears to be fabricated.
Dr Camille Bell-Hutchinson, campus registrar at the University of the West Indies' Mona campus, told a similar tale.
"Over the years, I'm sure we have encountered it (false documents) ... when we did our checks, CXC said it wasn't their certificate," Bell-Hutchinson recalled.
The OEC is urging companies and schools to carefully vet documents received from applicants before accepting them as the real deal.
"Employers and institutions are, therefore, advised to carefully scrutinise documents provided by prospective employees/students and take advantage of the OEC's capacity to verify results," read another section of the OEC statement on its website.
Efforts to get a comment from Hector Stephenson, executive director of the OEC, were unsuccessful, but information on the website revealed that one of the functions stated in the Overseas Examinations Act of 2005 is that the commission must keep permanent records for specific (secondary) examination results.
"For this reason, the R&I (records and information) Department serves as a repository for information on candidates examinations results dating back to 1943 (Cambridge) to present date. This enables the department to provide transcripts for examinations sat with several examining bodies ... ," the website said.
The OEC is also responsible for dispatching results to schools and private candidates.
Several educational institutions and companies in Jamaica accept the preliminary results slips as proof that an applicant has achieved the required subjects until they get the certificate.
But many employers and educational institutions do not follow through on the verification process.
A human resources manager at a major quasi-state agency told The Sunday Gleaner that while persons are employed based on the results shown on the preliminary slip they are not offered full employment until the official certificates are produced.
However, a major private-sector entity reported that while it requests the official certificate, a number of its staff members are now employed based only on the preliminary results slip.