In the ever expanding market of coaching institutes, Anand Kumar's Super 30 is an anomaly. For the past 8 years, students of Super 30, an education programme, for students from economically backward sections, run by Ramanujan School of Mathematics have consistently performed well in the joint entrance examination for the Indian Institutes of Technology.In an interview with Arunima Rajan, Anand Kumar, architect of the programme, talks about expansion plans,trends, challenges as well as skewed gender ratio at his institute which has often been considered as one of the most innovative schools in Asia.
You had got an opportunity to study at Cambridge and could not pursue it due to financial constraints.Do you still think about what you could have done ,if you had gone to Cambridge?
No, I don’t think of what I miss. May be, the God had willed it this way and I am happy with whatever I have achieved. In Cambridge, may be
I would have achieved success for myself, while here I see success in the smiles of my students.
Did you face any problems while running this school?
The problems were there in the beginning, when coaching Mafias got unhappy with my concept of Super 30. They attacked me and my people.Later, some people tried to defame me by starting different coaching institutes with a prefix or suffix of super 30 to their institute’s
name and they received huge amount as donation from government as well as from private agencies.
What is the selection process for Super 30?
Students are selected on the basis of their performance in a screening test. Preference is given to poor students, irrespective of caste or creed.
How does Super 30 sustain itself? Is Super 30 financially supported by government or other external agencies?
It does not accept any fund from any government or private institution.It is solely run by the income I generate from Ramanujan School of
mathematics, where we provide tuition for school students for a modest fee.
Why are there not so many girls in your institute?
May be, because of the social structure, in which people devote more attention to son than daughters. But now, things are gradually
changing. The government, the society as well as the families are paying more and more emphasis on girls’ education. In the years to come, may be there will be a lot many girls.
Does your students keep in touch with their alma mater, even after they clear the entrance test ?
Yes, many of those who cleared IIT-JEE 10 years ago and well placed in different countries are also still in touch with me. They also come to
me whenever they get an opportunity to visit here.
What are the expansion plans of your institute?
I will like to double the intake due to growing demand with in two years. But more importantly, I want to set up a school from class 1 to class 12 ,so that I could groom the poorest of students into the most successful citizens. This will have a lasting impact.
What do you think about promotion quota bill? Should reservation be given for economically backward or backward caste?
It is a sensitive issue, which should be best left to politicians to deal. But yes, I do feel that even the most backward people can go up
the ladder with merit if they get the right opportunity.
Is the new format of IIT JEE fair?
No, it is heavily tilted against the urban elite. I have also spoken about it. And more importantly, it is still not clear if the JEE board is itself convinced with it. Who knows, we can get back to subjective type once again, at least for the Mains examination.
Is there a dip in the success rate of Super 30?
Super 30 does not work for success of failure. It will be as successful if it is able to shape the life of one poor student. If itis 30 out of 30, as it happened for three years, it is a bonus. I was happy with 28 our of 30 and 24 out of 30 also, because those who miss the IIT bus end up in other good institutions or crack it the next time.
Who is the star of this year's Super 30?
For me, all 30 are stars. Luck and opportunities make stars. One question can be the difference. At Super 30, there is equal love for all and they all respond with equal hard work.
Recently people's magazine chose you as people's hero, how do you see these accolades?
This is a recognition that inspires me to work harder.
Though Bihar is an underdeveloped state, a big chunk of students clear competitive examinations every year. What is the reason for this success?
Heroes always emerge from adversities. Here students excel because they have the passion to excel. They want to shed their painful past
and start a new journey. Talent-wise they are second to none. Once they have the opportunities, they make it doubly count.
There have been reports about how Bihar has started developing at at a faster rate in the last ten years. How fast is the education sector in
the state improving?
The government has definitely very done good work. But, in the education sector, there is no magic wand. If one invests in education sector today, the results will show 15-20 years later. It is not like an industry that can start production straightway. The government is definitely trying positively and is busy developing infrastructure and busy in searching good teachers . The intent is there. The enrollment has improved, but now is the time to sustain and consolidate it.