They didn’t have teachers with multiple PhDs or the money to afford some of the resources available to their private school counterparts, but against all odds 60 tribal students from Alirajpur and Jhabua districts in Madhya Pradesh cleared the JEE (Main).
This year, 210 tribals, who lived in government hostels and studied at tribal welfare department schools in remote areas, sat for the exam for admission to the premier technology institute — 150 from Jhabua and 60 from Alirajpur. The results were declared on April 27.
Of them, 38 students, including nine girls, from Jhabua, and 22, all boys, from Alirajpur cleared the exam in their first attempt. The cut-offs this year was 100 for Common Merit List, 70 for Other Backward Class (OBC) and 52 for SC and 48 for ST.
Karan Kanesh scored 79, the highest among tribals in Alirajpur, and Priya Damar topped with 85 in Jhabua.
“Concept-building and repeated revisions are the key to success in any competitive exam,” said Keram Singh, son of Bhuwan Singh of Mayada village who scored 72. “Unlike other students who want to go for computer engineering, robotics or mechanical engineering, I want to go for civil engineering as it will help my change the condition of my village.”
Keram, whose father is a farmer, wants to join IIT-Bombay or Delhi, but has left the final decision to his family members, who would like him to study in Indore.
Another successful candidate from Alirajpur, Yash Barela, son of Lokendra Barela who scored 49, said, “Initially, I never thought I could make it but thanks to my school teachers and parents’ support I’ve achieved half my goal. And hopefully my hard work and dedication will help me to get the rest too.”
In contrast, only 11 students from Jhabua and one from Alirajpur made it to JEE-Advanced last year.
“Next year we are targeting about 500 kids to appear in the exam and hopefully 40% of them will clear the competitive exam,” said Jhabua in-charge collector Anurag Chaudhary.
The qualified students are now being coached by experts in Bhopal.
“The government is providing them facilities and help, due to which their talents are shining,” said Chaudhary. “Apart from books for board exams, high-quality reference and practice books have also been made available to them. Libraries in higher secondary schools have been strengthened.”
In the 2011 Census, the average literacy rate in Jhabua and Alirajpur was the lowest in the state at 43.30% and 36.10% respectively — Madhya Pradesh had a literacy rate of 69.32%. Several initiatives have since been taken to raise those figures.
Choudhary, who completed his BTech from IIT-Kanpur before joining civil services, said there is no dearth of talent in these districts. “Earlier, due to lack of awareness, hundreds of talented students went for home sciences or other traditional subjects, but now a large number of students are opting for science and the scenario is changing now,” he said.
Alirajpur collector Shekhar Verma said the administration was focussed on supporting tribal and Dalit children to perform better in upcoming exams. Information about such facilities made available by the government is also being propagated to the more interior tribal areas of the district, he said.
District Appeared (2015), Appeared (2016), Successful (2015), Successful (2016)
Jhabua: 144, 150, 11, 38
Alirajpur: 40, 60, 1, 22
Total: 184, 210, 12, 60