The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) or the IIT-JEE as it is commonly known is internationally regarded as one of the most challenging engineering admission tests. Not months but years of preparation is what is needed to crack the examination and become part of the elite group of IITians.
Every year, lakhs of students appear for the examination, while some taste victory, others are left disappointed. It is not always that we find students from the Northeastern region being able to crack the examination, however, in the recent past, many students from the Northeast have proved that there is no lack in the potentialities of students and all that is needed is some basic infrastructure and encouragement from the side of the government as well as parents.
TNT-The Northeast Today gets up-close and personal with one such student who has successfully cleared his IIT-JEE advanced 2016. Toshan Kharumnuid from Shillong, Meghalaya has made his family proud by securing 333rd rank in the ST list.
But the taste of success did not come easy for Toshan as this was his second attempt at IIT-JEE. Dropping a year was a risky decision for him which came after a lot of deliberations. Yet the emotional support from his parents as well as the continued inspiration from his elder brother who also cracked the IIT in 2012 helped him to make a firm decision and stick to it thereafter.
Talking to Shweta Raj Kanwar for TNT-The Northeast Today, Toshan says that not only studies but extra co-curricular activities are what helped in his all-round development. His interest in football, basketball as well as musical concerts and extra co-curricular helped in balancing our his interests while making him more able to pursue what he always wished for- cracking an IIT.
However, during his course of preparation in Hyderabad, Toshan realised that there was a huge gap between what he learnt in his 12th standard and what he still had to learn for the entrance examination. This was the time he realized that the students in the Northeastern region are at such a loss for what they learnt at the higher secondary level of education was not at all at par with those in other states whose rigorous schedule and content helps to mold a student's mind and prepare it for the coming challenge.
Shillong State Planning Board co-chairman, John F Kharshiing, father of Toshan, did not fail to agree with his son on this issue. He stressed on the need to bridge this gap. He also rued the fact that there were not enough coaching centres in the State for preparing the students hence the need to spread enough awareness in this regard.
An important deed in this regard would be to consider increasing the number of schools with Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) as the board whose curriculum acts as a blueprint in preparing the students for such competitive examinations.
It may be mentioned here that most of the schools in Meghalaya as well as other States of the region are still following their own boards which, obviously do not seem to create an in depth understanding of the subject matter. This in turn, does not allow the pupils to come out of their comfort zones thereby creating a hypothetical environment for them in which they assume they can achieve and clear any examination. But, when the time comes for them to actually step into the real scenario, they are over whelmed and hence cannot cope up with the situation.
Toshan's father goes on to say that," a large chunk of our students are appearing for the examination but do not qualify for it".
He goes on to say that even if the region adopts CBSE as its board, the biggest challenge would be to provide able teachers for the same. "A legacy is what needs to be created for which awareness is the need of the hour. There is never a right time, if we don't start now then when shall we?".
The scope of education in the region is apparently creating a grim 'Make-belief' situation which creates people with unemployable skills. Hence there arises a need to develop skills for the people to contain the situation.
"Becoming a graduate should be a strict regiment", adds Toshan's father.
Toshan and his father however did not fail to credit his achievement to Toshan's mother who herself happens to be an engineer; her constant moral as well as emotional support helped him to keep up the pace.
Toshan also stressed on the need for an IIT in Meghalaya that would help to boost the youngsters towards a more tedious and constructive path. Moreover, he also called on the universities in the region to initiate coaching classes in order to help students with talents but limited financial resources. The need to pool the talents together by assisting students financially was also stated.
Speaking about his future plans, he says that he is eyeing for IIT-Delhi, Mumbai or Kharagpur and is yet to arrive at a decision regarding this.
Toshan's achievement is not something that is impossible to achieve. All that is needed is assistance on the part of the government as well as strong emotional support from the family.
Toshan ends the note with a message to all the aspiring youths of the region: "Work hard, keep trying and never give up. If I can do it, so can you".
Interviewed by Shweta Raj Kanwar