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Anand Kumar: Powered to change lives

As a friend, philosopher, guide and teacher, Anand Kumar has touched and changed many lives and made dreams of bright young students come true. Gauri Kohli writes.

education Updated: Sep 05, 2012 16:25 IST
Gauri Kohli

As a friend, philosopher, guide and teacher, Anand Kumar has touched and changed many lives and made dreams of bright young students come true. Through his innovative and unique educational initiative, Super 30, he coaches aspirants for the Indian Institutes of Technology Joint Entrance Exam (IIT-JEE).

In the 10 years of the Patna-based Super 30’s existence, a whopping 263 students have cleared the tough IIT-JEE. Remarkably, most of the successful candidates have been from most underprivileged sections of society, many of them first-generation learners from rural and poor backgrounds. They are children of brick kiln workers, rickshaw pullers, farmers and roadside vendors and are now doing very well in life.

While training for the engineering exams, the candidates get free food, lodging and coaching. Though offers have come in from the private sectors and government for financial support, Kumar prefers to take care of his students’ needs.

Unique teaching methods
“I use a multimedia projector to teach students with the help of two characters, Rikki and Bholu. Rikki is from a rich family and wears a tie, a jacket and nice shoes. Bholu is from a poor family and wears simple clothes and worn-out chappals. Both are serious about clearing the IIT-JEE. While Rikki eats pizzas and burgers, Bholu eats bhutta. Rikki rides a motorbike, Bholu rides a broken cycle. When I give them a question to solve, Rikki solves it using traditional methods but Bholu uses multiple solutions. Through this method, students learn better and build their confidence,” says Kumar.

Students are taught about the importance of education and perseverance. “No one should be barred from pursuing education just because they don’t have money. Education empowers you and I am happy I can empower my students,” he says.

Creating Super 30
In 1994, Kumar got a chance to study at the prestigious Cambridge University but unfortunately, financial hardship ended that dream. “I decided to do something for the underprivileged students, who invariably lose out without getting the right opportunities,” he says.

Interested in math, he then started a club called the Ramanujan School of Mathematics. “My teachers encouraged me and under their guidance, I started a free training programme for math lovers.” Paying a nominal fee, a small group of students were trained for various competitive examinations. Those who couldn’t afford it were coached for free. Soon, Kumar formed Super 30.

Wide recognition
The man who has got his papers and problems on math published in various national and international journals, and newspapers, is now famous. Discovery Channel made a documentary on the coaching centre and called it a “revolutionary experiment to bring about social change.” Time magazine selected Super 30 in the list of Best of Asia 2010. Newsweek magazine included Super 30 on the list of four most innovative schools in the world. In 2011, Kumar was selected by Europe’s Focus magazine as “one of the global personalities who have the ability to shape exceptionally talented people.”

Teaching profiles and institutes at a glance

PGT and TGT
To become a trained graduate teacher (TGT), one requires a bachelor’s degree in any discipline and a BEd. A postgraduate teacher (PGT) should have a master’s degree (normally in a subject taught at the school level or thereabout) plus a BEd. A TGT teaches Class 6 to Class 10 and a PGT, Class 11 and Class 12

Pay-wise*

TGT
Delhi government schools - Rs 33,000 a month
Kendriya Vidyalayas and Navodaya Vidyalayas - Rs 34,000-Rs 35,000

PGT
Delhi government schools - Rs 35,000 a month
Kendriya Vidyalayas and Navodaya Vidyalayas - Rs 37,000 a month
The salary is generally a bit lower — Rs 2,000-Rs 3,000 less — outside Delhi due to the difference in the costs of living in non-metro areas, says Sanjeev Bhardwaj, an assistant professor of education. In the case of private schools, it’s hard to generalise because the range is wide, from a few thousand rupees to close to a lakh, he adds

BEd institutes
* University of Delhi www.du.ac.in
* Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi www.jmi.nic.in
* Banaras Hindi University, Varansai www.bhu.ac.in
* University of Hyderabad www.uohyd.ac.in
* Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, Delhi www.ipu.ac.in
* National Council of Educational Research and Training’s Regional Institute of Education, multiple locations www.ncert.nic.in

To sir, with love

I was born in Sitamarhi district, Bihar. My dream was to crack the IIT-JEE but it looked tough initially because I didn’t have enough money to join a good coaching institute. Then I heard about Super 30 and its success stories. It was great interacting with people who had similar goals. I salute Anand sir. There should be hundreds of teachers like him so that meritorious people get a chance to improve themselves.
Suresh Ram, IIT Delhi

I am from a small village, Majha, in Punjab’s Sangrur district. My family came from a very poor background. I finished my studies from Navodaya Vidyalaya with English medium and CBSE board. In Class 10, I was one of the top students of my class and was very good at mathematics and science. It was after Class 11 that I came to know about the IIT-JEE. I could not afford to take private coaching and read about Super 30. I filled the form, wrote the exam and qualified. I went to Patna to study and my life changed after that. The focus there was on the basics and practice. Anand sir has been the best math teacher I have ever met. His mere presence got me going. He kept our morale up. He told us about the success stories of people and how we could learn from them.
Jatinder Singh, IIT Roorkee

I am from Aurangabad, Bihar. Super 30 has been the best thing that happened to me. I found a guardian and a great teacher in Anand sir. He will continue to be my mentor and guide in the future too. We not only learnt about cracking the JEE, but also about conquering different problems in life. I liked his way of telling more than one method to solve a single problem. His way of teaching was systematic and clear. He helped me overcome challenges and boosted my confidence
Anup Kumar, IIT Bombay

Being a girl and coming from a poor financial background, my journey to an IIT was not easy. Super 30 gave me a chance to follow my dream and today, many girls like me want to follow suit. I will always be grateful to him for the great contribution he made to my life.
Megha Gupta, IIT Guwahati