PATNA No sooner had the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) declared the Joint Entrance Examination Main (JEE Main) 2017 results, on Thursday, an impoverished locality on the eastern fringes of the southern Bihar district headquarters town of Gaya broke into celebration.
The news emanating from the CBSE website was unbelievably good. Fifty candidates had qualified the engineering courses entrance examination from Patwatoli in Manpur, a locality inhabited mainly by weavers whose looms had a while ago ceased to earn for them a decent livelihood.
“We may have scored a half century this year but that is still not good enough. Next time, we will certainly hit a century”, gushed the successful JEE main examinees of Patwatoli, including Raushan Kumar, Vinit, Ankit and Naresh.
Once known as the ‘Manchester of Bihar’, for manufacturing high quality cotton garments with power looms, Manpur’s Patwatoli fell upon bad times as rising costs and growing competition made its products financially unviable.
Then, in 1998, Patwatoli, located across the Falgu river to the eastern side of Gaya town, about 125 km south-west of state capital, Patna, found itself an all new claim to fame. All of 15 local lads that year made it to the engineering joint entrance examination, the gateway to Indian institutes of technology (IITs).
Thereafter, Patwaloti beat the odds stacked against it, including persevering poverty and paucity of basic amenities, to turn into a “breeding ground for IITians’. Over the past two decades, almost each one of its hundreds of households has produced an engineer or two!
Since the initial brush with success in 1998, the number of successful JEE candidates from Patwatoli has been growing. Last year, altogether 40 students of this locality cleared the final JEE examination, a figure substantially bettered in the main examination this year.
“Many of those from Patwatoli who went on to become successful engineers have been inspiring and guiding successor generation of JEE aspirants, free of cost, to replicate their success. So, the Patwatoli saga goes on and on”, explains social activist Gopal Patwa, who helps organize community studies in the colony.
Community initiative, says Patwa, has been a big reason why Patwatoli’s success in cracking JEE has endured.
He says those from the colony who are employed as engineers and those studying in IITs and other top institutions of various streams, have formed a socio-educational platform called ‘Nav Prayas’ to groom local students for JEE and other prestigious examinations.
Towards this ends, the ‘seniors’ subscribe to the motto: ‘Each one, teach one’. Students with potential are identified and groomed for the entrance examinations. “Before appearing for the main examinations, they pass through weekly or monthly tests organized by the Nav Prayas”, said an IIT aspirant.
“Apart from our numerous IITians, some girls from Patwaltoli have also cracked the medical entrance tests. The competitive atmosphere created by such senior students as well as by local level activism, inspires our lads to perform well in competitive examinations on a sustained basis”, Gopal Patwa adds.
BEATING THE ODDS In 1998, for the first time 15 local lads of Patwatoli made it to engineering JEE, gateway to IITs