“Unless employers, institutions and citizens can feel confident that individuals have earned the qualifications that they purport to have, the entire system will lose legitimacy,” Nzimande said in a statement.
“Even the qualifications of those who have obtained them legitimately will be treated with suspicion, and this is unfair to all those who have genuinely worked to acquire such qualifications.”
Nzimande said the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) has noted increasing fraudulent activity, not only with regard to qualifications, but even with regard to its own certificates evaluating foreign qualifications.
“Unscrupulous individuals were willing to pay for false qualifications, and have no shame in producing these to support their CVs when applying for jobs, even in our educational institutions.”
He said SAQA was putting in place a variety of processes to strengthen the security of its certificates.
SAQA was also developing internal capacity to identify fraudulent foreign qualifications more effectively, he said.
Fraudulent qualification documents range in quality from poor copies of legitimate qualifications to high-quality forgeries that are very difficult to differentiate from the original, he said.
On Monday, African National Congress secretary general Gwede Mantashe said in a statement that party stalwart Pallo Jordan had resigned from Parliament and apologised to the ANC after reports that his qualifications were false.
Jordan had also offered to resign from the national executive committee (NEC) of the ANC and from the ANC.
Nzimande said he was concerned at the casual manner with which some people treated the issue of forged or fake qualifications and CVs.
“I also plan to engage the criminal justice system on these matters so that there is an appreciation of their seriousness,” he said.