Education October 28, 2020
Reports of alleged fraud in online certification process at Rehabilitation Council of India
There are growing concerns that Rehabilitation Council of India provisions regarding renewal of online certification are being allegedly misused. This is worrying given the RCI’s mandate of regulating and monitoring services given to people with disabilities. That’s our #SToryOfTheWeek.
The Rehabilitation Council of India (RCI) is the statutory body mandated with prescribing and mandating norms regarding special education in India. Which makes reports of alleged fraud being practised in the process of renewal of online certification deeply worrying.
The alleged misuse of norms and guidelines relates to Continuing Rehabilitation Education (CRE) programmes relating to disability rehabilitation and special education. This requires professionals/institutes in these fields to upgrade their knowledge and skills on a continuing basis by organising or attending webinars and workshops.
Institutes with RCi certification must get 100 CRE points by conducting a certain number of programmes over five years. They also get funds from RCI for this. For a three-day CRE programme, the RCI gives financial assistance of ₹ 54,000 and for a five-day it is ₹ 90,000.
Online process makes misuse evident
Reports are that many individuals are falsely claiming to have attended training programmes and applied for their certification to be renewed. The RCI website gives evidence of the nature of the misuse.
Newz Hook found at least two applicants that got their certificates renewed with the support of documents dating back to 2012. In one of them, the educator had listed just one programme.
The rule is that special educators and therapists registered with the RCI need to get their certification renewed every five years and for this they need 100 CRE points. Either they should be a resource person for a workshop or should have attended them.The requirements appear to have not been completed and they are getting provisional certificates of renewal by uploading old, outdated documents. – Shailja Sharma, Lawyer
If the fraud comes to light their licenses will be cancelled as the RCI has strict rules regarding violations. “But what ends up happening is that the RCI will charge them ₹500 for renewal and the forgery will escape attention. This gives them time to earn the points”, adds Shailja. The digital process has brought this to light.
The larger concern is the impact on the quality of special education, points out Kavita Sharma, Vice President (North), Autism Society of India and parent to two children with autism. She says this is a longstanding issue.
Impact on quality of special education
“Last year I was invited for a CRE programme in my hometown Jabalpur when I was in Bengaluru and hence could not attend”, says Kavita. “A week later a family member called me saying a certificate had been delivered to my home in Jabalpur which said I had attended the workshop”.
Instances like these show that the system is being manipulated. “People are claiming all sorts of nonsense to show the numbers because the government gives funds to organisations that have accumulated 30 persons with CRR”.
This is bound to affect the quality of special education, says Shailja, who is also parent to a child with autism “If they are not getting updated with the knowledge and have the mindset of frauds, what good will the quality of special education be?”, she asks. The RCI, she says, must verify the process with the help of original documents and not provisional ones. “We have people re-uploading details of programmes they have done in 2004! This is only visible because the process is online”. She equates it to a surgeon getting his medical license renewed without doing any operations.
Attempts to reach Subodh Kumar, Head RCI, were unsuccessful. Newz Hook was directed to the registration department of the RCI where calls went unanswered.
Renewal process apart, Kavita suggests a relook at the certification process itself. “To become a special educator, one needs to complete class 12. This is not enough. One needs maturity to perform such a critical role. At least a graduation degree is needed”.
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