The super boys of a super coaching institute

By Imran Khan


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Patna : The son of a watchman from Bihar who earns a paltry Rs.1,600 a month has cracked the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) exam this year. But the boy may never have made it without the Super 30 coaching institute.

Abhisek Anand has secured the 1,049th rank in the IIT-Joint Entrance Examination (JEE). "My son is hard working and intelligent but who would have imagined that he'd be selected for the IIT," said his father Arvind Pandey.

Father and son live in a small one-room house in a lower middle class neighbourhood in Patna. The costly coaching, study material and the lack of an environment conducive to studying posed huge obstacles for Abhisek.

But Super 30 – located inside a small thatched house with fraying wooden benches and creaking tables in a densely populated lower middle class locality here – made his dream come true.

"They helped my son fulfil his dream," said Pandey.

Abhishek is among 28 of 30 pupils at Super 30 to have passed the IIT this year. The results were declared last Wednesday.

The results have brought new hope to at least a dozen poor families from across Bihar where nearly half of the 83 million population cannot read or write and nearly 50 percent lives below the poverty line.

Take for instance Pranvav Prince, who secured 162nd rank in the IIT-JEE. His father is unemployed and his mother ekes out a living by tailoring clothes.

Another successful Super 30 boy Asutosh Kumar's father drives a road-roller.

Similarly Abhisek Tekriwal's father owns a small shop, Ashok Kumar's father is a salesman in a garment showroom, Shayam Ratan's mother is a nurse and his father died few years ago, while Abhisek Kumar's father is a middle school teacher and Rahul Kashyap's father is an insurance agent.

The average private institute that trains students for the IIT-JEE demands anything between Rs.40,000 and 50,000. And this doesn't include the cost of study material.

But not so with Super 30. Most of the successful 28 are not from any elite English medium school but from Hindi medium institutions or little-known English medium ones.

Nearly five years ago, when Super 30 took shape, it was housed in a ramshackle yard. But in its very first year in 2003, 18 of the 30 students cracked the IIT entrance tests. The number rose to 22 in 2004 and 26 in 2005 and has been steadily increasing over the years.

Last year too 28 students of the Super 30 had made it to the IITs. In the last five years, 122 students of the Super 30 have cracked the IIT. Among them were the children of landless labourers, auto-rickshaw drivers, watch mechanics and construction workers.

"This year, it is like a hundred percent result. It is a big thing for us, our students made it. This year 28 cracked the IIT and two others were selected for the preparatory," Anand Kumar, 35, the brain behind Super 30, told IANS.

Incidentally, Anand Kumar has never been to an IIT himself, but has won praise for his work in mathematics.

Every year, Super 30 selects a group of 30 IIT aspirants from poor families and provides them free coaching, food and accommodation.

"We provide them facility minus luxury or comfort to live and study, nothing more. The get simple food prepared at the mess and they are strictly told to keep away from friends and family," said Anand Kumar's brother Parnav Kumar who looks after the management of Super 30.

"Roughly speaking, around 4,000 to 5,000 students aspiring for the IIT-JEE turn up from all over Bihar for a place in Super 30. It is not an easy task as we go through difficult assessment tests about subjects, family background, education, intelligence and above all confidence level," Anand Kumar said.

In the first round, some 200 are selected before finally picking 30 pupils.

"The handpicked 30 students are coached rigorously for nearly eight months. We conduct about 100 tests and IIT-JEE is the 101st test for them. It becomes easy for them in the process," he said.

In view of the high demand and pressure to turn Super 30 into Super 100, Anand Kumar has hinted at plans to increase the number of students. "We may increase it to 50 and more in the coming years because of the impressive success of the experiment and demand," he said.

Bihar's Additional Director-General of Police Abhyanand, who teaches physics at the institute said, "The success of Super 30 lies in hard labour and proper guidance for excellent results."

Anand Kumar, who also runs the Ramanujan School of Mathematics, said Super 30 is supported by income generated from the mathematics school, which has students from affluent families who can afford to pay up.

"We started Super 30 with a clear cut mission to provide the poor and under-privileged an opportunity to excel in education," said Anand Kumar.

He said he decided to begin Super 30 as he himself had been unable to cough up the money needed to finance his higher education when he received admission to Cambridge University in the 1990s. He funded his studies by delivering poppadums made by his mother to shops and homes as his father had died of illness.