Center for Learning and Social Responsibility: Education Above Social Class

By Juliana Pasker

 

In life, the odds are against you if you’re from a village or an urban slum, if you haven’t been to an English-medium school, and if your parents don’t have a high school education. Less than 3% of the engineering and business school intake is from rural schools.  Poonam Gupta defied all odds and made it to IIT Kharagpur in 2012 and is now the CEO and co founder of Alive Home Technologies to revolutionise the smart home space in India. 

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Alive Home Technologies is an IoT based startup system. The Internet of Things (IoT) is a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals or people that are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction. 

poonam gupta
Poonam Gupta, CEO and co-founder of Alive Home Technologies.

Her family lives in Delhi’s Geeta Colony, six individuals sharing a solitary room. Gupta studied at the Rajkiya Pratibha Vikas Vidyalaya, a school for talented students run by the Delhi government. Her family didn’t trust she could crack the JEE, and neighbors disclosed to them she ought to simply get married. Be that as it may, Poonam made it to IIT Kharagpur in 2012, on account of the time, and instructions and training she found at the Center for Learning and Social Responsibility (CSRL) Super 30 in Delhi.

Super 30 is an initiative started in Patna in 2002, it picks 30 smart students from disadvantaged backgrounds, and strenuously trains them for the joint entrance exams (JEE Main and Advanced) to IIT and other engineering schools. The original Super 30 has split into two; the school run by Anand Kumar continues to work out of one site in Patna, and posts record victories. Meanwhile, the branch under retired IPS officer Abhayanand has sprouted many others, like the Rahmani Super 30 meant for Muslim students. It has also partnered with public sector units across the country under the canopy of the Centre for Social Responsibility and Learning (CSRL). There’s a GAIL Super 30 in Kanpur, a Petronet Super 40 in Kashmir, a Railtel Akanksha Super 30 in Uttarakhand. Now, with 13 centres across the country, it has helped 550 students make it to various IITs, central and state engineering institutes in the last seven years, says CSRL director S K Shahi.

The majority of these students are a first in their families. None of them have the home condition, schools and educational cost, or even recreation that middle class students underestimate. Aside from a determined few, a large portion of them didn’t dream of IIT. But once they get in, they motivate others around them to do likewise. 

 

If education is to convey genuine change, as opposed to only recreate social hierarchy, these endeavors are indispensable. Also, a more diverse classroom improves learning, for everybody.

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