OVC is a web-based system that allows automated verification of documents/certificates with the project scope limited to institutions of higher learning though it is a viable system for companies/corporations and government institution such as ministries and the project areas that require verification services. The project aims to reduce the time involved in verification of certificates by utilising the certificate serial number and the unique password provided by the student and in return the original details of the certificate are displayed either in image form or as text. Since all most all academic institutions have a website and they also have records of all the students who have graduated from the previous years, a database of the students and alumni credentials will be maintained securely in the relevant institution server. Using OVC, if one wants to check the authenticity of a certificate, he or she would use the certificates serial number and/or admission number of the owner to search the institutions database upon payment of a fee. If the certificate is genuine, an image of the certificate is retrieved or just the details contained therein. To ensure that this information is accessed by only the potential employer an additional password is required. To further ensure the integrity of the database, it is incorporated with the institution’s website and managed with institution‘s administrator. After installation, the institution just needs to update the student’s details as often as the students graduate. Prospective employers can key in the ID of the student (e.g. the Reg. no), the serial no of the document they wish to verify and a pass code given to the student. No verification will be carried out without any of these three requirements. The system will do a search on the database for the specific information and display it or alternatively an electronic copy of the document is displayed.
Technology creates a platform that helps leverage on the challenges currently faced by society. One of these challenges in Kenya is the lack of a secure and convenient way to verify documents especially certificates. This has resulted in many incidences of counterfeit certificates being used to get employment. For instance, last year, EACC was investigating 38 Nyeri County Administrators who had gotten jobs with fake certificates (The Standard of September 10, 2015). Prior to these incidence, an individual was caught masquerading as a ‘paediatric doctor’ having practiced it for over 15 years before it was discovered that he holds a nursing degree from the University of Nairobi instead of the medical degree he claimed to have. Another candid case was when 18 police officials were dismissed from Kiganjo Police Training College for having used fake certificates during recruitment. This are just a few of the many cases that could have been avoided if a proper certificate verification system was in place in our country. The effects of counterfeit certificates not only damage the reputation of the person implicated but the credibility of the institutions of higher learning and the country at large. In extreme cases as that of doctors with fake certificates, the life of patients is held at risk and can be a matter of life and death.
One of the common reasons for this unfortunate incidents is the long and more often bureaucratic process involved in the verification of certificates and qualifications. According to recruiting agencies, it takes an average of 3 weeks to get feedback regarding a request for certificate authentication using manual means. In some cases, no feedback is provided at all. This is why some employers opt to forgo this process and instead rely on examining the genuineness of the certificate paper presented. Unfortunately, this leaves them at the mercy of fraudsters i.e. Riveroad who have perfected the art of printing fake certificates. Document verification faces two major challenges; one is verification process usually takes a long time as previously explained. Second, ensuring the confidentiality and integrity of the certificate information; the right people get access to the data contained therein in certificates and the information should also not be tampered with to suit a given situation. This is why our team (Reagan Mogire, Elvira Lukelesia and Reagan Omullo) decided to research and develop the Online Verification of Certificate (OVC), the system aims to use the internet that is currently easily available to a large percentage of the population to verify certificates.