Kota has been in news for last few months for rising number of suicides by students who come to the riverbank town, 261 km from Jaipur, for coaching, but this one is about a child prodigy. Twelve-year-old Jeevesh Joon has achieved the rare feat of clearing the Biology Olympiad which is based on the higher secondary syllabus. His teachers said they had never heard of anyone below standard 9 to clear any of the Olympiads organized by the Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education (HBCSE).
Jeevesh also cleared stage 1 of the junior Olympiad when he was in class 6 last year but couldn’t sit for the second level because the HBCSE laid down a condition that only students of class 9 and above could take it.
Jeevesh’s elder sister is enrolled for medical coaching at Allen Institute in Kota. She passed class 12 last year when she was only 16 and hence couldn’t sit for AIPMT. Jeevesh said he read her class 11 and 12 Biology books to prepare for the Olympiad.
“He’s a gifted child. He’s always looking for books beyond his syllabus to read. When he couldn’t sit for the second round of junior Olympiad, he came to me and I advised him to try the senior Olympiads which have no age restrictions. He chose biology. I wasn’t very sure that he would be able to clear it, but he’s done it,” said his mentor Tushar Parekh, who heads the pre-nurture and career foundation (PNCF) wing at Allen.
Parekh said he had been following the “official” Olympiads for last 12 years and had never heard about any Class 7 student being able to pass it. “I think by the time he’s in Class 10, he would have read all books till senior secondary and would be asking for more. I can clearly see a very bright scientist,” he added.
Jeevesh came to Kota in 2012 with his sister, Harsha. He took admission in Class 5 while she joined Class 11 at a local school besides joining Allen for medical coaching. Jeevesh joined the pre-nurture division (for students of Classes 6 to 10) the next year.
There are 12 official Olympiads in the world. India conducts 8 of them – physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, astronomy, earth science, information technology (IT) and junior science. The Olympiad program follows 5 stages: stage 1 is called the national standard examinations (NSE), stage 2 Indian National Olympiad (INO), stage 3 orientation cum selection camp (OCSC), stage 4 pre-departure training camp (PDT) and stage 5 is participation in International Olympiad (IO). The programme is financially supported by Government of India, in particular, by Board of Nuclear Sciences (Department of Atomic Energy), Department of Science and Technology, Department of Space and Ministry of Human Resource Development – and hence known as the official Olympiad programme. Many private bodies also conduct Olympiads.
Top Indian institutions for the study of pure sciences like the Indian Institute of Sciences (IISc), Bangalore and Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research (ISERs) give direct admission to students who have participate in international Olympiads.
Last year, Jeevesh got the all India first rank in mathematics Olympiad organized by the All India Mathematics Teachers’ Association for students of classes lower than Class 9.
Jeevesh said he read all reference books that his sister had to clear the NSE in Biology. Staying with his mother and sister in Kota, the young wunderkind added that he wanted to pursue the study of sciences for career.