Project Shikhar, under which the coaching camp for competitive exams is held, was started by the state in 2021, but it is only now that they have tasted the proverbial “fruits of success”.
Of the 25 students selected for coaching, 21 have qualified for JEE(A) while 10 are awaiting results of NEET. Some had appeared for both medical and engineering entrance exams.
Ravindra Thakare, additional commissioner, tribal development department (TDD), said:“These students cracked JEE-Main, a highly competitive exam, and qualified for JEE (A) without any professional training which one associates with coaching institutes. It was an in-house team from the TDD which took care of the entire project, planning and implementation. ”
‘We plan to expand Project Shikhar to 200 students in ’24’
As 21 of 25 tribal students qualify for JEE(A) after a 45-day intensive coaching camp in a Gondia village, Wikas Rachelwar, TDD’s project officer, said, “We chose these students after a common entrance exam. Students have come from the most remote villages in eastern Vidarbha, many of which are Maoist-affected. ”
“All our students are already guaranteed admission in top government colleges. But with 21 of them qualifying for JEE-Advanced, we now have a chance of entering the prestigious IITs,” Rachelwar added.
Buoyed by the success, the TDD wants to expand the scope of Project Shikhar. “We had 25 students this time; next year it will be 200. We are doing the groundwork related to it,” Rachelwar said. The selected students are those who are enrolled either in ashramshalas, funded by the state, or Eklavya schools, which are under the central government.
“The students here comefrom very poor families, but are brilliant and extremely hard-working,” said Rachelwar. The village was chosen because it boasts of a well-maintained residential campus for tribal students, where classrooms are also aligned with digital learning methods. The state government is bearing the cost of lodging and boarding of all the selected students.
During the camp, students focussed their energies completely on cracking the competitive exam. “Their schedule was from 5. 30am till 11pm and students were highly motivated, ” Rachelwar said.
The TDD has its own education wing, to manage its schools and residential units, which prepared study notes. Rachelwar said, “We prepared the notes in specific modules to make learning easier for students. The compilation has been appreciated at the state level. We hired lecturers on contractand even our own staff pitched in. We did not get a good lecturer on contract for chemistry, so one of our principals taught it to the students. ”