The South African Council for Educators has launched a probe into the qualifications of about 20 teachers who allegedly graduated from the University of Zululand and are suspected to have fake degrees.

The council’s chief executive, Rej Brijraj, confirmed that the teachers, whose names appeared on its database, did not appear in the list of students who had graduated from the university over the past few years.

“We gave them [the university] the list of people on our database for their verification and they verified and found that approximately 20 educators are not appearing on their list of graduates,” Brijraj said.

One of council’s main responsibilities is to enhance the teaching profession by ensuring that every teacher in the country is registered and provided with a registration number, which is a requirement for teaching.

Brijraj said, over the next few years, the council, with the basic education and provincial education departments, the South African Qualifications Authority and universities, will verify the qualifications of the 420 000 teachers who are in classrooms in a bid to weed out those who are bogus.

The University of Zululand has been mired in controversy over allegations that thousands of students may have bought degrees. The Mail & Guardian recently broke a story about a student who had a top position in the university’s student representative council and graduated with a postgraduate certificate in education in May.