Meet the 17-Year-Old Mumbai Girl Who Got a Scholarship to MIT without a Class 12 Certificate

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A seventeen-year-old homeschooled Mumbai girl just got into the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Malvika Raj Joshi got a scholarship from MIT, without having a Class 10 or 12 certificate, based purely on her computer programming talent. She is a three-time medal winner at the International Olympiad of Informatics, more commonly known as the Programming Olympiad, which helped her secure a seat at MIT.

Unlike several prestigious academic institutions in India like the IITs, MIT accepts students who are medal winners in various maths, physics and computer Olympiads. 



Malvika found it difficult to get admission to IIT in India without a Class 12 certificate. But now, she is all set to pursue a degree in computer science from one of the most prestigious technology institutes in the world.

It was Malvika’s mother Supriya’s decision to “unschool” Malvika when she was in Class 7 at Dadar Parsee Youth Assembly School in Mumbai. Supriya told PTI that this tough decision was taken while she was working with an NGO and helping children affected by cancer. She decided that it was more important for her children, Malvika and her younger daughter Radha, to be happy than to gain conventional knowledge.

Unschooling is one of the educational methods of homeschooling where the learner chooses the activities that interest him or her as a means of learning. This encourages the learner to focus on the topics he/she is passionate about; in Malvika’s case it was computer programming.

The Indian Government has in the past stated that “parents dissatisfied with the education system may choose home schooling for their children.” But the rules regarding homeschooling are still unclear because of the implementation of the Right to Education Act, which makes it compulsory for every child between the age of 7 and 14 to attend school. Although no parents have gotten into trouble for homeschooling their children, the Indian education system is perhaps not designed to cater to the needs of homeschooled students, which makes it virtually impossible for them to get a college education.

-Arjun Raj

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