Senior government officers Santosh Kumar, Vijay Kumar and Ranjan Prakash belong to different villages from Bihar, but they all share a commonality.
They studied in a Hindi medium school and made their way up to securing government jobs. Today, Santosh is a secretary at Arunachal Pradesh Staff Selection (APSSB), while Ranjan holds the post of the assistant commandant at Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), and Vijay is an officer at the Indian Railway Traffic Services (IRTS).
But achieving bureaucratic positions by studying from a government school was never easy.
“We know the inferior quality education in Bihar and the poor method of teaching by contractual teachers. The government schools are in poor shape in terms of offering academic education,” Santosh admits.
Bridging The Gap
Santosh says, “Students studying from government schools find it challenging to pursue civil services given their poor exposure [to the field]. They are underprivileged and cannot compete with privileged students who study in private schools.”
The IAS officer says there are a few who can access education at school and seek private coaching. “The students from government schools become the poorest and weakest link. The situation becomes a hindrance to coping with academics at par with other privileged students. On many occasions, the students cannot afford books or educational equipment,” he tells The Better India.
However, the three officers are working to change this bleak picture for good.
In 2019, the officers started Ambedkar Initiative for the Marginalised (AIM) Pathshala that is providing hundreds of underprivileged students with free education and study material. The initiative works in tandem with the government schools where additional coaching is provided to students in the institute premises in Gopalganj, Aurangabad and Samastipur districts.
Vijay Kumar explains that the lessons are held from Classes 1 to 10 between 7 am and 9 am. “Quality teachers and experts in each subject are invited to help the students with queries, doubts and polishing their skills. Weekly tests are held to monitor the student progress,” he says, adding, “There are no fees charged to the students. Instead, uniforms, books and other educational material are provided by us.”
Vijay says over 450 students are studying across the three centres. “The additional classes have helped the students score better marks,” he claims.
Ranjan Kumar, a Class 12 student, says his performance has improved phenomenally since he began taking sessions at the AIM Pathshala. “I came to know about the classes through friends. They have helped me clear concepts, understand important chapters and prepare accordingly for my examinations,” he says.
Ranjan says that he scored 70 per cent in his mid-terms compared to his average score of 50-55 per cent before he started taking coaching. “I was impressed with the benefits and also recommended eight other friends who have improved on their academic scores as well,” he adds.
Officer Ranjan Pradhan says the plans are to rope in more IAS officers who can contribute to their cause. “We want officers who wish to contribute towards society. We also plan to streamline the curriculum modules and add extra-curricular activities to help students prepare for placement interviews and other examinations,” he says.
Santosh says that they wish to continue the cause and extend the initiative across India. “Education is the best tool of empowerment, and it will help build a better generation,” he adds.
Edited by Yoshita Rao