A few hundred metres away from the chaotic Kabutar Khana area in Dadar stands the three-storey Bhawani Shankar municipal school.
On the second floor of this freshly whitewashed building that is still under construction, in a well-lit, air-conditioned room sit 74 students aspiring to get into one of the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs).
Dressed in colourful salwar kameezes as well as T-shirts and jeans, these municipal school students are a part of a novel experiment started by the municipal corporation to provide free high-power coaching to students from municipal schools in three new junior colleges.
Two coaching centres, IITian’s Pace and Yukti Classes, will actually conduct the classes.
The three colleges, located at Mulund, Dadar and Vile Parle, will also accept 50 fee-paying students from other schools.
These colleges opened last week just for the municipal school students, who are first undergoing a crash course in English before the other students join in the first week of August.
They will also get some maths classes to familiarise them with some basic terms. In their first maths class in Dadar, students watched the professor draw a mathematical diagram on the whiteboard, then quickly bent down to scribble calculations in a bid to shout the answer out first.
Shweta Desai, one of the students, whose father owns a sandwich stall, wanted to be an engineer. So she jumped at the opportunity of being coached for the IIT.
“I really love math,” she said. “The first class was great fun.”
But many students found it hard to sell the idea to their parents, who are worried they cannot afford an IIT education.
“It’s a joy to see them study,” said Mohit Goyal, founder of Yukti Classes. “We have made provisions to sponsor the four years of the IIT if the students make it,” Goyal said.