New Delhi : In 1994, when Patna-based Anand Kumar, got an opportunity to pursue his education in Cambridge University, he was delighted. But his happiness was short-lived. He realised that the family's financial constraints did not allow him to dream big. This paved the way for a much larger role in life for him.
Kumar now runs Super 30, an institute that offers free coaching along with food and accommodation to 30 students from economically backward classes to help them crack the highly competitive Indian Institute of Technology-Joint Entrance Examination (IIT-JEE).
For this feat, he has found a place in the Limca Book of Records 2009.
The institute does not get financial support from any government or private agency.
"The Super30 coaching is subsidised by the money generated by running evening classes for intermediate students who appear for various engineering tests," Kumar informed.
Born to Jayanti Devi and Rajendra Prasad in Patna, Bihar, Kumar hails from the village of Deodaha, which is 30km from Patna. He studied at Patna High School and graduated from Patna University. Since childhood, he wanted to be a mathematician. During his college days, he also wrote papers for national and international journals.
"My teachers suggested I should go abroad for further education. But I could not expect my father, who worked with the postal department, to fund my studies.
"I did try to raise money, but nothing worked. So, while I was studying, I set up the Ramanujan Society of Mathematics. My own hardship at such a young age made me realise what other bright students would be going through, so it became my aim to reach out to them," Kumar explained.
The coaching institution, named after the famous Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan, prepared students for various competitive examinations at a very nominal fee. Seeing the results of his efforts, Kumar decided to start a new venture.
Road to success
Super 30 began its journey in 2003. Kumar summoned his brother Pranav, a talented violinist, from Mumbai and started his innovative programme. Pranav was entrusted with the responsibility of managing Super 30.
"My family extended all help in my endeavour. While my brother looked after the management duties and my mother cooked meals for the students, I restricted myself to academics.
"In the first year, 18 out of 30 students took the exams. The next year, the number rose to 22 and thereafter improved further to 26 and 28. The ‘magic moment' came in 2008, when the result was an astonishing 30 out of 30. And Super 30 became a hit," Kumar gushed.
Asked if he still nurses ambitions of going abroad, Kumar said, "No, now I am happy and content with my Super 30 students and won't change it for anything."
Meeting the pm
Anand Kumar recently met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and apprised him of Super 30 coaching institute. He suggested measures on how the government could take a lead in running such initiatives. He came up with schemes under which coaching could be provided on the lines of Super 30 to shape the career of poor students.
"The reforms should not be confined to IIT-JEE coaching and need to be applied to various streams. Through government-run training or coaching programmes, the students can get the best teaching facilities with free food and lodging," he said.
Proposing a number of changes in the IIT entrance system, Kumar said, "Rural students face difficulties in solving Olympiad level problems despite sound subject knowledge of Class 12 level. That's why the poor students should be allowed three chances to appear in the test instead of two keeping in view the vast disparity in the quality of education in cities and villages in mind."