As it poured heavily on Saturday morning, 25 of the brightest students to come out of the city’s civic schools in the last year gathered at The Free Press Journal’s (FPJ) Mumbai office at Nariman Point for a special event. These youngsters, who scored the highest among all the students at the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation-run (BMC) Mumbai Public Schools (MPS) in the Class 10 board exams, were felicitated for their achievement by FPJ.
The students were awarded at the hands of Raju Tadvi, BMC Education Officer, and actress Adah Sharma, in the presence of their parents, siblings and teachers. The achievers were felicitated with a certificate, a goodie bag and a monetary prize. A sense of pride enveloped the hall when parents applauded not only their children but everyone else’s too. It was a celebration of the grit and determination of these youngsters, many of whom hail from very humble backgrounds.
Tadvi expressed his gratitude to FPJ for the initiative as he exhorted the students to look beyond their socioeconomic circumstances to pursue their dreams. “Everyone has the right to education; everyone is equal,” he said. “Check the background of achievers, such as IAS officers who run the country. Find out under what circumstances they pursued their education. You will realise that there’s no relation whatsoever between one’s situation and education. Once you decide what you want to do, what you want to be, no one will stop you from accomplishing it.”
Director of FPJ Abhishek Karnani gave the examples of Steve Jobs, Walt Disney and JK Rowling to inspire the students, while highlighting the importance of hard work and devotion. “A firm foundation is essential in this age of rapidly expanding artificial intelligence. These achievers amongst us prove that if you have a goal, nothing can stop you,” said Karnani. “I have no doubt that BMC school administrators and instructors are taking extreme care about their students and communities,” he said.
BMC runs more than 1200 schools
The BMC’s Education Department runs more than 1,200 schools across the city that impart primary and secondary education to around 3.5 lakh students in eight mediums – English, Hindi, Urdu, Marathi, Kannada, Telugu, Tamil and Gujarati. While most of these schools follow the state board syllabus, the civic body in recent years has added 14 CBSE schools and one school each following ICSE, IGCSE and IB boards.
These schools not only impart education free of cost but also provide necessary stationery and clothing articles such as uniforms, shoes, raincoats, tiffin boxes, water bottles and notebooks. The education officer said that, for the last three years, the civic body has been bearing the entire education expenses of the first 25 MPS high scorers for five years after their schooling.
This was the first board batch after Covid-19 pandemic
What made these students’ success particularly special was the fact that this was the first batch of students to face a full-fledged board exam after the Covid-19 pandemic hit the education system. The event also recognised the stellar role played by parents and teachers in encouraging students to continue their education despite the challenges.
Khushboo Singh, Principal, Saraswati Bagh Hindi Mahanagar Palika School, said, “It was very difficult to get students to read and write when the schools resumed after Covid as they had lost much of their reading and writing practice. We undertook various initiatives such as test series in order to prepare them for the board exams.”
Securing the top spot is just the first step for BMC students, as they aim to achieve a lot more in the coming years. “I want to join IIT and eventually be an aeronautical engineer. Since a young age I have been interested in space programmes, ISRO, and more,” said a proud Tejaswi Chaurasiya, from Goshala MPS English School, who scored 94.6% in the Secondary School Certificate exam.
Despite hurdles, Tejaswi wants to make her dream come true. “Though there are difficulties in availing the same facilities as my peers when it comes to coaching, colleges, and other resources necessary to be a good engineer, my school and the BMC Education Department have assured their support, which will help me achieve my goal,” she said.