Let's start with a short but interesting story. A friend of mine, Shadhin (pseudo name) shares his experience about the attestation of his secondary school certificates and other documents before collecting university admission forms. "I didn't know well about attestation and its purpose. However, I had to know as it was an official requirement to submit my admission form. Unfortunately, I did not find a first class gazetted officer in my area. It was an emergency, and then, I had to ask for help to my math tutor. He just smiled and gave me a stamp with ink-pad which was of a secretary of a ministry of Bangladesh. He had signed where it was necessary. A big problem was solved within seconds! I was amazed, by the way", says Shadhin.
Now is the time to come to the main point. The attestation of academic papers - meaning getting verification from a testator, a first class gazetted officer in case of Bangladesh, that the holder of the papers is original and authentic, is wellknown to almost all students or job seekers who seek to attend any university admission test or any competitive examination or a recruitment test. Attestation demands a legal ground. Hence, the testator must be aware of what he or she is attesting. A student is made compelled to get his or her educational documents - mark sheets, certificates, testimonial papers and so on-- attested. However, one of the main purposes of attesting educational papers is verifying both the authenticity of the papers and the original bearer of those.
The question is, whether are there enough first class gazetted officers available compared to the number of students. Unfortunately, our query to many pupils got a reply in negative. A good number of rural students is not familiar with or linked to such officers at all. On the other hand, the urban students, too, cannot evade such difficulty, atleast to some extent. Moreover, the officers have little time - other than official workload - to put up with the annoyance of the students to get their papers verified or, sometimes they misbehave. In that case, how students do mange the attestation is equally interesting and eyebrow raising!
Though surprising, but it is true that many students have their own (!) attesting seal and pad, and duplicate signature to attest their academic papers. If you have second thoughts in taking decision, you need to go to Dhaka's Nilkhet, for example, from where you can avail the qualification of a 'gazetted officer'(!) in exchange of Tk 80 to 100 only. And, what about the signature? It is only the matter of students' creativity. Creativity it is!
If we take a look at the purpose of attesting the academic papers, and then the cheap and illegal ways of getting the attestation we must fall in a big dilemma. The question may peep in mind that: Why do the students adopt this illegal trick? It is simple enough! Maximum percentage of students do not have any affiliation with the required people to attest their papers. Moreover, students know that illegal attestation does not pose any negative impact as there is no verification of the testator. The third reason is that, I bet, many students do not even know the actual purposes of attesting papers. For all these reasons, students find inspiration to forge the qualification of a gazetted officer even when they are yet to enter the tertiary level.
The real scenario of attestation is gruesome and shocking, truth to be told. The illegal adaptation of attesting papers burns the students' integrity and honesty uprooting their trust on 'attestation' and its necessity as well.
Shadhin's story is not an isolated case, rather such stories galore almost everywhere across the country.
There may have been two ways to find out a solution to it. First, One can be on a regular supervision if the signature really conveys a real testator and, second, the internet can be a very useful and up-to-date tool to work as the alternate of "attestation". The concerned authorities must be well informed that in this digital age of internet and technology, all legal information, including students' academic, parental and referential is available on the respective education board websites. So, any stakeholder can examine and investigate about the authenticity of the documents provided by the students through the given information on websites.
We must not forget the motto of 'Digital Bangladesh' and the tremendous progress of the term. We cannot but mention the ongoing 'digital shade' in our every walk of life. So, the internet can be used to keep all the students' academic and parental records. The central education ministry will control a server where all information will be stored and which will allow access to those who need to check it in any time. We must think about the scopes and opportunities of the attestation and its real scenerio in Bangladesh. The corcerned people must think the pros and cons of the burning issue. Online system can be a big tool to evade such stake- though sounds trifling. In fact, when our spokespersons are used to ornate their speeches with the term 'Digital Bangldesh', why should this important issue be ignored then?r
The writer has recently passed MA from BRAC University