Monday, November 29, 2021

REVEALED: BAC lecturers’ questionable credentials

In what appears to be a clear lapse in the verification of academic credentials of its prospective members of staff, the Botswana Accountancy College (BAC) could have hired lecturers whose academic credentials are soiled with fraud and untruths. The institution’s head of School of Professional Studies, Dr Devin Zanda Nkhoma was expelled by his previous employer, Canadian University of Dubai for academic misconduct after he was charged with plagiarism.

Sunday Standard investigations have turned up information detailing how Dr Nkhoma, a Malawian national, was left red-faced after the paper he had submitted for publication at the African Journal of Accounting, Finance and Banking Research (AJAFBR) was found to have contained, word-for-word duplication of work by another lecturer from Australia’s Monash University. In a statement prepared by AJAFBR’s Dr Chiaku Chukwuogor, Dr Nkhoma was only exposed after Dr Bereket Redda from Monash University filed a complaint against Dr Nkhoma for plagiarizing his work, after the paper was published in the journal.

“ In December, 2009, we published online an article, titled, Post-Privatization Changes in Firm Activities, Performance and Management Control: an Empirical Study on Malawian Based Firms authored by Dr. Devin Z. Nkhoma of the School of Business, Canadian University of Dubai, in Volume 5 Number 5. On March 18, we received a complaint of plagiarism from Dr. Bereket Redda of the Department of Accounting and Finance, Monash University, Australia, charging that Dr. Devin Z. Nkhoma had copied substantial portions of his PhD. Thesis,” reads part of Dr Chukwuogor’s report.

He said in order to determine authorship, and possible academic misconduct or plagiarism; he requested documentary evidence from Dr. Redda.

“I forwarded the complaint’s copy of the thesis and other supporting materials to Dr. Devin Z. Nkhoma and requested an explanation. Dr. Devin Z. Nkhoma replied and admitted plagiarizing Dr. Redda’s thesis,” Chukwuogor continued in his report. He said following the revelation, he removed Dr Nkhoma (2009) from the online publication of Volume 5 Number 5, 2009 of the AJAFBR.

The report continues, “As a result of the admitted plagiarism, the integrity of the whole paper had become compromised by this incident. Editors of the Global Business Investments and Publications LLC, (publisher of the AJAFBR) and I examined the documents provided by Dr. Redda and the article that was published, to determine if the misconduct was severe or less egregious in order to determine if further sanctions were required. We unanimously agreed that there were conspicuous incidences of plagiarism.”

Dr Chukwuogor said in many areas of the article, Dr. Nkhoma copied Dr. Redda’s thesis word by word, sometimes with little paraphrasing. He further pointed out that Dr. Nkhoma took the words and thoughts of Dr. Redda as contained in his PhD. thesis without ever citing Dr. Redda’s thesis or obtaining a written authorization from Dr. Redda.

“We therefore decided to ban Dr. Devin Z. Nkhoma permanently from submitting any manuscripts for publication in any of the journals published by Global Business Investments and Publications LLC because he intentionally misled the editors and reviewers and subsequently the reading public about the originality of his work. In addition, we have notified Dr. Nkhoma’s institution of affiliation, the Canadian University of Dubai of his acts of plagiarism and the sanctions we have imposed,” the report stated in conclusion.

Dr Chukwuogor stated that Dr Nkhoma recognized the severity of his plagiarism and apologized to Dr Redda and the journal for his unprofessional action. Reached for comment on Friday, Dr Nkhoma confirmed the incident and stated that as a consequence, the Canadian University of Dubai didn’t renew his contract. Still at BAC, it has emerged that another lecturer, Dr Byron Brown, a Jamaican national who brandishes a 10-page curriculum vitae, might have deliberately fattened his CV with untruths. Dr Brown is head of School of Business and Leisure at BAC.

Sunday Standard got hold of his CV and detected some suspicious qualifications. In his CV, Dr Brown states that he holds a PhD (Dr) despite being a ‘Doctor of Education’, which means that his title should be ‘D.Ed’ and not ‘Dr’. He also stated that he attained a Diploma in Quality Management System (QMS) at Botswana National Productivity Centre (BNPC) in 2004. A quick telephone call to BNPC confirmed this to be untruthful. BNPC Program Administrator Mmemme Molapise couldn’t contain her laughter when asked if the institution offered such a course at Diploma level. Molapise said they offer the course as a refresher course that takes only 12 days at the maximum and as such, all they offered the attendants was a certificate of attendance. In fact she couldn’t readily recall ever coming across the name Byron Brown.

“I easily recall the names of people who come for such courses but that name doesn’t strike a chord with me”, she said, even though she admitted she might need to check through files. When contacted on Friday to hear his side of the story, Dr Brown initially wanted to disown the CV he was being questioned about but on further probing he admitted it was his CV and pleaded oversight. “The course lasted about a month and it was not a Diploma but a certificate or something like that”, he finally conceded. He said he might have stated ‘Diploma’ by mistake. “Please my brother let me send you a proper CV,” he pleaded with this reporter. He indeed sent a ‘corrected’ CV which interestingly now addresses him as ‘D.Ed’ holder and not ‘PhD’ holder.

The new CV also states the BNPC qualification as a certificate and not Diploma. Among some of his many qualifications, Dr Brown states in his CV that he attained Diploma in Gender, Economic Development and Poverty Reduction from the World Bank Institute in New York in 2005. He also states that he attained Diploma in Teaching (Dip.Ed) Secondary Education from Mico Teacher’s College in Jamaica in 1995. At the time of going to press, the Jamaican college had not yet responded to Sunday Standard enquiries on whether they offered that course in 1995. In their present prospectus, the course does not appear as one of the programs of study at their institution.

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