UPSC coachings that help in building assets
The Residential Coaching Academy (RCA) of Jamia Milia Islamia (JMI) was the talk of the town when one of its students Shruti Sharma emerged as a topper when the UPSC results came out. This was in fact just another feather to the Academy’s cap, as it has helped many candidates do well in the all India competitive exam.
Coaching institutes in Delhi have an outstanding record, as they tend to boast with full-page advertisements in newspapers, but their remarkable success rates come at a hefty cost not everyone can afford. This is where two residential coaching centres in Delhi step in by providing the highest quality coaching at subsidised rates. Apart from the one at JMI, there is also the Hamdard Residential Coaching Academy.
Professor in-charge of Jamia’s RCA, Abid Haleem, who has been in the profession for 20 years, has been associated with the Academy for a year now. He mentors students and conducts mock interviews to build their confidence. He also plays a supervisory and administrative role at the Academy.
Explaining the admission process, he says, “Everybody is free to apply. We hold an all-India test at 10 centres. Around 10,000-15,000 aspirants appear for 100 seats. However, only women, SC, ST and six religious minority communities can apply for admission for free coaching.”
Haleem elaborates, “This is a scheme by the University Grants Commission (UGC). The representation of minorities, SC, ST and women has not been up to the mark. Therefore, UGC has provided grants to five centres, which includes grants to build the infrastructure for 100 admissions and a yearly grant of Rs 85 lakh to run the program. We don’t have any further reservations.”
Diversity in focus
Haleem says, “Diversification of our students is very good. No doubt, population-wise, UP and Bihar are highly represented. Most of the students who have the domicile of Bihar and UP reside in Delhi, so the number of students from Delhi is also higher. But we have representation from almost every state.”
Giving an idea of how wide is the Academy’s embrace, he states, “This year we had students from 20 states and two union territories.”
As for scholarships, many types scholarships are available. First is the scholarship by the UGC. This year, Rs 23,800 will be given to weaker sections on merit-cum-means basis, which will be 20% of the total students. In addition, the Academy doesn’t debar candidates from availing scholarships from other organizations.
Staying in the hostel is compulsory. Accommodation charges are Rs 2,000, maintenance charges are Rs 2,500 and caution money, which is refundable, is Rs 7,000.
He says proudly that a total of 23 students have cleared the exam this year. Asked about the success rate, he says, “It is difficult to calculate, as the success of this year is attributable to the selection done two years back.”
Keeping students’ motivation levels high is a big part of the Academy’s approach. “If students are depressed, they can come out of the hostel room and go to the library where they will find everybody studying,” says Haleem. A big peer group supports them. They have their role models, who failed four times and then got successful. Therefore, there is motivation outside your room, and sometimes it can be found inside your room.”
He says that the students are provided with an enabling environment that helps in maintaining the calm and positive attitude.
Speaking of the journey of UPSC aspirants, he points out, “There are a lot of capable people in India. There are instances where people are able to clear in first attempt but there are instances where people take 3-4 years.”
He points out that there are many residential coachings, but the reason JMI is exceling is because of the support from its Vice Chancellor, who takes care to keep the funds rolling.
Speaking about the teachers, he says, “We have teachers empanelled from different institutes that teach specifically for UPSC. Some Jamia faculty also takes classes. This is a 600-700 hour course. Most of the students do self-study. We provide them test series from the best professionals.”
To inspire students to keep working for their goals, Haleem says, “Don’t leave any stone unturned, and work hard. Study with good concentration. Don’t study just for the sake of achieving a set number of hours.” He further suggests, “Be aware of what UPSC wants from you… It wants a different type of answers and a different level of calibre that you have to acquire.”
Following in JMI’s footsteps is another institute that has made its mark — Jamia Hamdard Residential Coaching Academy.
Assistant Professor SS Ashraf, Coordinator of the Academy, has been associated with it since its inception in 2009.
Speaking of the program offered, he says, “We conduct one-year full residential program especially for UPSC. In parallel, we also provide classes for other examinations like banking, SSC and state PSC. We conduct an all-India test during October and November. The written test is followed by group discussion and interview. We take 100 candidates, out of which we have 30% reservation for female candidates. We give them training for almost a year. We provide tuition, test series and mock interviews for preparation.”
The Academy is run by the Education Ministry under the aegis of University Grants Commission. The mandate has been given for six religious minorities, SC, ST and female (open category). Apart from UPSC, the students attempt other competitive exams. One-fifth of students get scholarships of Rs 2,000 per month on merit-cum-means basis, i.e. students with parents’ income less than Rs 5 lakh per annum and who qualify UPSC prelims or any other national level exam.
Six students from the Academy have been selected for civil services this year. Ashraf says, “The Institute’s success rate is almost 24%. Apart from UPSC, students have qualified Bihar PSC, UPPSC and Intelligence Bureau.”
At the Hamdard RCA, ex-students who are posted in Delhi-NCR regularly visit the Academy and guide the aspirants. Ashraf adds, “The biggest motivation for students come from interaction with ex-students. What could inspire them more than seeing students from the same academy getting selected?”
Speaking of the student base, he says, “Only 10-15% are from Delhi, whereas the majority comes from different states.”
In line with Haleem’s statement, Ashraf agrees that the entrance test is usually tough for a fresh graduate to crack. “Most of the students who take the test are already in preparation for the last 4-5 years as the entrance exam is difficult for a fresher”, he says.
The Academy is solely funded by UGC, and the coaching is free of cost. The University charges subsidised fees, which is Rs 2,000 per month for accommodation and Rs 2,200 per month for food. A total of 70 males and 30 females all reside in the campus.
He says that the motto of the Academy is to strengthen the students from weaker section who cannot afford commercial coaching in Delhi.
On being asked what motivates him to work with the Academy, Ashraf joyfully says, “It gives me pleasure to see the students getting selected. I enjoy mentoring them because they will contribute to nation-building. They are an asset not only for the Academy but for our country.”
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