Most of Akshay Khandelwal’s friends and family told him that a student from a civic school could not excel in science.
They were proved wrong on Tuesday when Akshay, 16, was selected for the final round of the Indian National Olympiad.
“Sab ne bola ki BMC school ka ladka kya science karega, kya IIT jayega (Everyone said that a BMC school student can’t manage to do science and go to the Indian Institute of Technology),” said Sanjay Khandelwal, Akshay’s father, who is a supervisor at a factory in Vada, Thane.
Educated till Class 7 at a municipal school, Akshay completed his SSC with a mere 68%. Now, he is one of the 40 students who have been shortlisted for the physics and chemistry Olympiad and will attend a selection camp in May.
He is presently a Class 12 student of Ratanbai Walbai Junior Science College in Mulund, a civic-run college that has tied up with coaching institute, IITian’s Pace. The college trains students from municipal schools for the IIT-JEE, the IIT entrance test.
“I read an advertisement in the paper about colleges that offer free coaching for the IIT-JEE to municipal students and applied. In Class 10, I got 75% in science, but over the past two years my interest in the subject has increased and I decided to apply for the Olympiads,” said Akshay. “My parents do not even know what the Olympiad is, but are very proud of me.”
While Sanjay earns Rs10,000 a month, Akshay dreams of making it big in life. “I want to do a dual degree in mechanical engineering in IIT Bombay and get a good job,” he said.
Akshay will now be part of a training camp that will select the final five students who will represent India at the International Science Olympiads at the end of the year.
“I’m sure he will be part of the final team. I am more proud that he is part of my college than any JEE topper,” said Praveen Tyagi, founder, IITian’s Pace.