A small city in Gujarat, which lacked even the basic education facilities for UPSC preparations has now become an education hub. Students staying hundreds of kilometers away are coming to the city for their UPSC preparation. One woman made this possible. Read more.
Bhavna Padhiyar, a senior clerk in district panchayat, was once a Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) aspirant. With no guidance available in her district, she had to go to Ahmedabad, which was 400 kms away. She received the much-needed guidance and the right environment to study there. However, it came with a cost. She had to spend Rs 30,000 for her coaching classes and an additional Rs 30,000 for her accommodation and other expenses.
Bhavna could not clear her UPSC exams but got a good idea of the exam process. She understood what books to read, what mistakes to avoid and how to prepare in a smart way for the highly competitive exams. Padhiyar wanted other students to get quality education and guidance in her district. Seven years later, she now successfully runs a coaching centre for UPSC and other government exams for free.
“When I was in Ahmedabad, I realised what students from my district were lacking. I wanted to bring the same environment and guidance back to Bhuj. I came back to my hometown and started ‘Sambhavam’,” recalls Padhiyar.
The Humble Beginnings
Her first batch comprised of 12 students and her home’s living room became their classroom.
“The main aim was to guide them about preparation and books to study as in initial stage students are not aware of anything. Then more students started to come,” Padhiyar added.
Currently, Padhiyar teaches over 300 students. “I kept Sambhavam free of cost so that it remains accessible to students of all backgrounds. We don’t judge students based on their financial background,” Padhiyar said.
From children of daily wage labourers to kids of business owners, everyone finds an equal space in Padhiyar’s institute.
With the growing number of students, it became difficult for Padhiyar to accommodate everyone in her house. So she asked Paresh Raval, principal of Ramji Ravji Lalan College, to grant them 2 rooms for the purpose of teaching the students.
“Sambhavam classes approached us with their work and asked us if they could use college classrooms. Seeing their initiative to help the youth of the area, we granted them two rooms. We also let students use the library for reading and holding group discussions. In some government exams, one has to pass a physical exam too, so we gave permission to use college grounds for the training,” said Raval.
Sambhavam has created an environment where its alumni come back to teach new students. Many former students who are currently working with the government go back to the institute to take classes.
Sanjay Gharchar was one of the first students of Sambhavam. He was working as a computer operator in Taluka Health Office when he met Padhiyar. Gharchar said: “I was preparing for a job for the position of clerk in the High Court at that time. I had already cleared the prelims exam but was confused about how to approach the interview. I met Bhavna Ma’am and I started attending the classes at her home to prepare for the interview. When the results came out, I was very happy. I secured 3rd rank out of three lakh students who had given the exam. I also decided to help Bhavna Ma’am in her initiative in my free time. Now, whenever I am able to save time from my job, I go there and teach Geography to students.” Ten other alumni of Sambhavam, who also landed government jobs, teach at Sambhavam in their spare time.
Over 160 students from Sambhavam have cleared government exams and are currently posted in their respective areas. Jyotsana Chandra, who comes from a family of farmers, was clueless about how to prepare for government exams after graduating. Then she saw an advertisement about Sambhavam.
She said: “I too, like many other students from my town, was clueless about preparation for such exams. Sambhavam and Bhavna Ma’am guided me and told me the correct way to approach these exams. I finally cleared the exam for Assistant Sub Inspector Of Police and now I am delighted to work as an ASI.”
Murnal Charya, a Deputy Section Officer in the Gujarat Secretariat, was also a student from Sambhavam. He said: “The environment that Sambhavam gave us was earlier absent in our district. We were a group of 11 students who used to study together and help each other. Now all of us are working in very good positions.”
Sambhavam has managed to remain free of cost in spite of its growing popularity and an increasing number of students. Besides coaching, it also organizes seminars to inform students about new openings in the government sector.
The initiative of one woman has turned into a movement. More than 300 students are now studying in Sambhavam. They also ensure the learning process is better by sharing books, helping each other, and contributing money to buy equipment like projectors. A city which had very few government officers is now creating hundreds of them, all of whom who are doing their part in building a prosperous nation.
What more can the government do?
The government should start making effort to inform students about jobs in the sector from the secondary level. Currently many jobs in the government sector remain vacant due to various reasons.
Centres should be opened in small cities and villages in which a series of tests are conducted to make students familiar with the pattern and difficulty level of the exam.