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So-called essay factories are booming in Kenya

The phenomenon is not new. Student connections have long been said to have stashed masses of seminar, diploma or doctoral theses in their basements, which those who lack the leisure or brainpower for their own scientific work can fall back on has become a regular, albeit legally controversial, line of business.

According to surveys by the BBC, one in seven students now uses so-called “essay mills” during the course of their studies, which – for a fee – write texts. There is now a worldwide network of such factories: a text on the use of the genitive in Shakespeare may have been written in Texas or Melbourne. Or in Nairobi.

According to the BBC, East African Kenya has become a hotbed of ghostly handwritten homework and doctoral theses: an entire subcontracting industry has developed there for students from the more affluent parts of the world who have come under pressure. The BBC estimates that one in ten Kenyan students finance their studies by forging texts: some have even founded schools in which they train the next generation of contract writers.

For the globally operating essay mills, Kenya is attractive for three reasons: A large part of the population speaks good English, the education system works – and wages are low. The BBC brings up a “Kennedy” who, according to his own account, earns the equivalent of around two euros per page: his “essay mill”, which he relies on to place orders, can count on five times as much income. With around 15 pages that he writes every day, the former teacher still earns significantly better than before.

The BBC wanted to know whether he felt bad about making a living with fraud: Kennedy made it clear: “I am not fighting against the law, but against poverty.”

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