Rahmani 30: In the vast expanse of despair, it's the oasis of hope for Muslim students in Bihar

Patna: This is a story that has nothing to do with the ongoing assembly elections in Bihar. But in a state where the approach to education among Muslims from politicians of all hues can be defined by one word – apathy, it needs to be told. A few driven individuals can change lives in ways no politician or party can. The success of Rahmani 30 is an example.

Farhan Ali wants to be a space engineer. What’s so special about it? Well, it’s the mismatch between his background and the scale of his ambition. Son of a small farmer in a non-descript village in Araria, one of the most backward districts of Bihar, he is the first member of his family studying away from home. Bridging the gap between his background and aspiration is Rahmani 30, a preparatory institute for the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology (IIT).

Farhan calls it his good luck that he cracked a three-level competitive examination which enabled him to enter Rahmani 30. The residential preparatory institute, run by Munger-based Rahmani Foundation under the patronage of Maulana Syed Mohammad Wali Rahmani and mentored by former Bihar Director General of Police and physicist Abhyanand, is not only helping Farhan but also other poor Muslim aspirants like him to look beyond Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs).

Image courtesy: Tarique Anwar/Firstpost

Image courtesy: Tarique Anwar/Firstpost

Courtesy Wali Rahmani, the founder of the centre and member of All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), 83 Muslim students from humble backgrounds have cracked IIT-JEE and around 109 have succeeded in getting into various engineering colleges in the past seven years. Established in 2008, the non-government venture which provides free food and lodging to students for its one-year and two-year programmes, has also started coaching talented but unprivileged Muslim boys and girls for medical tests.

“Over 47 percent of our students have been successful in the IIT entrance examinations, whereas 43 percent have successfully competed in All India Engineering Entrance Examination (AIEEE) and have secured places in various technical universities. At least 10 percent of our students found success in international universities,” said Shabbirul Hoda, manager of Rahmani 30’s Anisabad branch.

In 2009, 10 students of the institute appeared in IIT-JEE and all of them cleared. Thirteen appeared the next year; four of them went to IITs and the rest joined NITs and other engineering colleges. It has been a success story ever since. In 2015, of the total 42 students coached at different centres of Rahmani 30 across the country, 32 cracked IIT-JEE and the rest 10 joined NITs.

The success story does not end here. Nineteen students of the institute cleared Math and Science Olympiad conducted in 2014. Rahmani 30 students performed well in Physics. Of 10 Muslim students who cleared the Physics Olympiad in the country, seven are from Bihar and all of them are from the institute that has 27 students each in the foundation (first year) and target (second year) batches of the two-year preparatory programmes for IIT-JEE. The centre is preparing 39 girls and seven boys for All India Pre-Medical Test (AIPMT).

Rahmani 30’s contribution to the Olympiad is “highly magnified when compared to the output of the Muslim community nationwide”. Of the total Muslim students across the country who cleared Math Olympiad, 86 percent are from Rahmani 30. The share of the institute in physics, chemistry and astronomy stands at 73 percent (8), 24 percent (4) and 17 percent (1).

The institute runs from a modest building at Anisabad in the state capital with five permanent faculty members, three of whom are IITians. The rest are guest teachers.

Inspired by History TV18 shows like Ancient Aliens, Storage Wars, Baggage Batters and Pond Stars, Adnan Shahid from Jam Nagar, Gujarat, wants to do research on space creatures, planetary motion and galaxies. “My aim is not merely to earn a bachelor degree in engineering. I want to study the entire space in depth. Only IITs can give me a chance to fulfil my aspirations. Under the wonderful guidance of teachers here, especially Abhyanand sir, I am 100 percent sure of qualifying the joint entrance examination,” he said.

Kishanganj’s Sayeed Anwar, whose father struggles to make ends meet, wants to join civil services after securing B.Tech from IIT. “I had resolved to qualify IIT-JEE when I was studying in class 9 at Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya. My aim is UPSC after finishing engineering,” he said, adding that if he gets success, he will be the first IITian not only in his family but in his entire village.

Mohammad Shadan Asghar, who belongs to Jalkaura in Khagaria district, came to know about Rahmani 30 when one of his neighbours, a student of the centre, competed for AIEEE and entered NIT Jamshedpur. “I took his success as a challenge. I asked myself that if a boy like him can get admission at NIT, why cannot I? Since IITians are considered the best engineers, I decided to qualify IIT-JEE with firm determination,” he added.

Explaining the method of teaching that ensures good results every year, mathematics teacher Sudip Kumar said they never solve any question. “We promote students to think on different lines to solve a problem and develop concepts on their own. Rigorous practice to solve combined test papers, informal teaching set-up and more and more interaction are the keys to success here,” he added.

According to Abhyanand, the academic mentor of Rahmani 30, the students of the Muslim community are equally good compared to students of any other community. “The only difference I have noticed is the non-realisation of this fact among them. They have to be told about this repeatedly because they lack self-confidence. At Rahmani 30, we not only teach students subjects but also develop self-confidence in them,” said the ex-top cop.

Asked why the institute fails to admit 30 students if there is no dearth of talent in the community, he says IIT looks for a particular kind of talent and such talent relate to mathematical and analytical abilities. “Such abilities are not very commonly found. But it does not mean that other children are devoid of abilities. They may have different abilities. This is why we do not have a very big group of children,” he explained.

Asked what he finds missing in the existing educational system of the state, he added, in the current system, “We are at best producing information gatherers; whereas, we should be producing information processors. A good teacher is one ‘who never gives right answers but keeps asking right questions’.”

Asked how he took policing and teaching along, the noted physics teacher said the former was his profession, while the latter his passion. “I never found any difficulty in doing both of them together. In fact, experience on both sides helps me excel in both,” he said.

Talking about his journey as an educationist, the former boss of Bihar Police said he was never a teacher. “I got into the IPS (Indian Police Service) immediately after completing graduation from Patna Science College. I started teaching my two children when they were in primary school. I began loving this activity. This continued till class 12 after which both of them got into IIT. Then I decided to use the experience to help poor but talented children,” he said.

Asked why he parted ways with Anand Kumar’s Super 30, he concluded, “My first experience with Super 30 was like a result in the laboratory. When I realised that this result was worth getting out of the confines of the laboratory to the society, I decided to expand, not only in terms of geographical area but also in fields such health and games. Rahmani 30 is one of many similar efforts.”

Explaining what prompted him to nurture the IIT dream in Muslim youth instead of confining himself to just madrasas and preaching about religion, Maulana Rahmani said the utmost service to religion during these times is to educate the youth and upcoming generations with contemporary subjects.

“Our condition, which is brought about by centuries of inaction or mis-action, will not change overnight. Instead of blaming the system for poor education among Muslims, we now need to traverse the terrain of continuous effort, determination, struggle and sincerity to create and establish effective institutions such as Rahmani 30, which is a model designed that should be shared by many,” he added.

The centre has spread its wings at many places such as Hyderabad, Mumbai and Manipur in collaboration with local organisations.

Updated Date: Oct 21, 2015 09:40 AM

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