Be it the son of a farm-labourer or a small-time eggseller, the many competitive entrance exams held in the country provide a fair chance to students from diverse socio-economic backgrounds to prove their merit and study in premier institutes.
But given the nature of the exams and the tough competition that exists, many a time, students from adverse financial backgrounds find it difficult to crack the exams without the right guidance or coaching. This is where the heroes that this article speaks about come in.
Today, we look at the stories of five teachers who are empowering students from impoverished backgrounds with free coaching to help them pursue their engineering and medical dreams.
From selling papads to helping deserving candidates crack IIT entrance exam
He was born to a humble homemaker and a clerk in the postal department in Patna, Bihar. Unable to afford private schools, Anand Kumar studied in a Hindi-medium government school. The death of his father at a young age, pushed the family into deep financial crisis, where his mother had to start the business of rolling papads to sustain the family. Kumar delivered these homemade papads to shops and homes on his bicycle.
Despite his financial circumstances, Kumar was a gifted child, especially in mathematics. The papers he wrote on the number theory during his graduation were published in journals such as Mathematical Spectrum and The Mathematical Gazette.
In 1992, Kumar began teaching mathematics in a rented room for Rs. 500 a month, under the banner, the Ramanujan School of Mathematics (RSM). Within three years, he was teaching almost 500 students. In 2002, an underprivileged student sought coaching for IIT-JEE from Kumar, stating he couldn’t afford the annual admission fee.
This inspired Kumar to start the Super 30 programme in 2002, which hunts for 30 meritorious talents from economically backward sections of the society and provides free coaching, lodging and food to help them crack entrance exams for the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT). The past years have seen good results, with some shares of controversies too. The man’s work also inspired Hritik Roshan’s recent film, Super 30. Know more about him here.
Odisha Tea-Seller Became a Teacher to Help Needy Kids Crack NEET For Free!
In his first year of coaching, Odisha-based Ajay Bahadur Singh is a proud mentor. Why? Because 14 of his students from financially weak backgrounds cracked the sought-after National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) 2019.
Ajay once nursed the dream of becoming a doctor too. But his father’s untimely death after a failed kidney transplant put a stop to his medical dream.
To make ends meet, he set up a stall where he sold tea and sherbet. He juggled jobs like selling soda-maker machines, taking tuitions, and even selling soft drinks at weddings and religious functions to pay for his father’s treatment.
Eventually, the chaiwallah (tea-seller) decided to start an entrance exam coaching institute. Not only to help his finances, but also to help students in need of guidance to crack engineering and medical entrance tests.
But Ajay could never forget how circumstances did not allow him to pursue the medical path. He wanted to help kids who wanted to become doctors, but did not have the financial backing to do so.
In 2017, he established Zindagi Foundation, where bright students who couldn’t afford the highly expensive medical entrance coaching were enrolled and given free coaching, food and accommodation. Know more about it here.
Inspired by Super 30, Rajasthan Doc Provides Free NEET Coaching to Poor Students
Inspired by Anand Kumar’s Super 30, Dr Bharat Saran set up ‘50 Villagers Seva Sansthan’ in Barmer, Rajasthan in 2012. The initiative coaches children from the economically weaker sections for medical entrance examination. It takes in 25 students from classes 11 and 12, each.
Speaking to The Better India, he shares, “So many students are forced to drop out of school once they complete their class 10 exams, we found that while many of them were talented and had the aptitude, it was their economic conditions that made them leave school. I wanted to help them complete their education.”
His team chooses students based on different parameters. One of the qualifying criteria is that the student should have completed class 10 with first division, post which they have to appear for a 50-mark paper that is designed to assess their aptitude, followed by a home visit to validate their economic status.
On an average, Rs 25,000 is spent each year for one student’s accommodation, food, books, and daily expenses.
Despite being in a debt of almost Rs 9 lakh for unpaid rent for the building that the students occupy and books they have bought, among other expenses, the institute continues to run.
“We work only on the donations which range from Rs 500 to Rs 5 lakh. We are often ridiculed and mocked for our work, but none of that has stopped us.”
Know more here.
This Cleric’s Initiative Helped Underprivileged Students Crack JEE
In 2018, over 137 students from Rahmani 30 qualified for the JEE Advanced exams.
Rahmani 30, run by senior cleric, Maulana Wali Rahmani provides free residential-cum-coaching programmes for JEE (Main), JEE (Advanced), NEET, chartered accountancy and law entrance exams to economically, socially and educationally backward minority students.
Between 2008 to 2017, the programme helped 213 students get through the IITs.
Rahmani 30 enrolls students after a standardised, written objective test and an interview for the final selection. Once selected, the students are provided with accommodation and meals during the tenure of the coaching.
Skilled teachers teach specialised topics and regular tests and exams are conducted to measure the student’s progress. Even the lecturer’s progress is measured to maintain transparency between students and the administration.
Know more about the initiative here.
Once a Naxalite, This Physics Teacher Has Educated Poor Kids For Free For 30 Years
Subhash Chandra Kundu from Basirhat rejected Naxalism to teaching the wonders of science. After being released from the Dum Dum correctional centre in 1974, he traded the path of armed revolution with the work of spreading education among the poor.
He established the Institute of Physics in 1988 on a small plot of land. Before this, as a teacher at Basirhat High School, he taught tuition to students for free.
Most students who come to his institute belong to families who cannot afford to send their wards to college. Thanks to his efforts, many have beaten poverty to teach at top institutions like the IITs and St Xavier’s College in Calcutta.
Thanks to donations from his ex-students and well-wishers, the institute has grown over the past three decades.
Today, the two-storey college houses two classrooms and well-equipped laboratories.
Despite suffering partial paralysis a decade ago due to a cerebral stroke, he has not only continued his work but holds exhibitions and quizzes across the district. Know more about him here.
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)