Meet Anand Kumar The Superman Of Super 30
If you think quality education is all about infrastructure and facilities, think again! An institute in a little-known area of Patna is showing the way. Meet the Superman behind the Super 30!
By Rajesh Viswanathan • 11 min read
Mahatma Gandhi once said “True education should be easily accessible to all and should be of use to every villager in this daily life. The emphasis laid on the principle of spending every minute of one’s life usefully is the best education for citizenship.” With time, these principles could well have faded away but one man has been striving to keep it alive — Anand Kumar, founder of Super 30 coaching programme.
For starters, Super 30 coaching is an innovative educational programme in Patna started by Anand in the year 2002. Each year, 30 meritorious students belonging to the economically backward classes are selected and trained for IIT entrance examinations. All these for free of cost!
Between 2002 and now, 308 out of 360 students enrolled into the Super 30 programme, have made it to IIT. That’s an envious record, yet the simplicity with which the institute works bowls you over. Anand Kumar lives the life of a simpleton in Patna, Bihar, despite his celebrity status.
Super 30’s impact has been so far-reaching that even US President Barack Obama sent a special envoy to appreciate the effort, after reading about Super 30 news in Time Magazine.
Despite his hectic schedule, Anand Kumar took time out for this very special conversation. It’s a ParentCircle exclusive.
We inspire our students to understand the ‘How and Why’ theory. It is very important to remember that there are multiple ways to solve a problem.
1. You went through a difficult childhood. You got admission in Cambridge University but could not afford it. Was that one of the reasons you decided to come up with Super 30?
Leave alone affording the university fee, I could not afford a flight ticket to England. Just a few months before I got admission in Cambridge, my father, who was my source of inspiration, passed away suddenly due to a heart attack. The whole world came crashing down for me. I then decided I was going to dedicate my life to the educational requirements of the poor and the needy.
2. It’s been a special journey for Super 30 since you started it in 2002. You must be feeling really special.
It feels great. I have dedicated my life to help the underprivileged in education and I am very happy it has progressed well so far. I have never made money, I don’t own a house either, but I feel I am richest in the world in terms of joy and satisfaction when I see these students work hard and witness my batch succeed. I have always believed in the concept of Yes, we can.
3. Do you think the Indian education system is very exam-centric?
You can say so, but things are changing. Thanks to globalisation, the need for skills-based learning is definitely picking up. People have started realising that great performance in exams alone won’t help. Having said that, exams are still very significant, especially the entrance exams as they can prove to be the gateway to successful careers.
4. During your visit to MIT and Harvard, you called for non-discriminatory education.
While it is common to see people fight for equality in education, not many look at equality in quality education. Only quality education can help the world fight grave issues like poverty, illiteracy and deprivation. During my lecture at Harvard, I called upon experts, scholars and students to come forward and use their expertise to help the world move forward in the right direction.
5. What is the Super 30 mantra that helps you come up with the staggering results?
Super 30 may be low on resources but is never low on spirit. Our students are taught four important traits:
- Positive thinking
- Continuous hard work
- Tremendous trust
- Great patience
All four traits are inter-linked. Having just one or two of them is not enough. What also helps us is our style of teaching. We inspire our students to understand the ‘How and Why’ theory. It is very important to remember that there are multiple ways to solve a problem. No single method is the only method.
6. You are seen as a role model by many young students. When you were young, who were your role models?
(Smiles) Well, I never had a film celebrity or a sports star as my role model. For me, Ramanujan and Newton were my role models.
7. You had a very special relationship with your father.
Yes, I am 99 per cent my father. I had a challenging childhood where my family struggled to make ends meet. Despite all the troubles, my father always emphasised on education. He stressed that education was the only way to come out of poverty. Although we had financial constraints, my father used to save some money every month just to buy books on science and mathematics for me. He knew I loved mathematics and wanted to do anything to help me cherish my dream of making it big.
8. Super 30 has been a big success story but has so far been confined to Patna. Any plans to expand?
We are a closely-knit family. My mother cooks for the students, my brother manages them and my wife also helps out big time. We are a dedicated team, all working towards one goal. We are concerned the concept will get diluted if we take it to other cities without adequate preparation and that’s why we do not have any such plans at the moment. We are planning an online model for Super 30 though. That should happen soon.
9. Given the kind of service you do, you must have come across some great stories. Any story that remains fresh in your mind?
Yes. There was this student, Anoop, who hails from an extremely poor family. One day, Anoop’s father left home and never returned, leaving the family in further distress. Bogged down by the situation at home, Anoop almost took to the gun. His mother pleaded with him not to do so. She wanted her son to fight poverty with education instead. The duo came to my institute, seeking help. I remember they did not even have slippers to wear when they came to meet me that day. I enrolled Anoop and he went on to clear the IIT entrance examination. When he knew he qualified, he called me and was crying non-stop. He just went crazy with a bagful of happiness. It made me feel the transformation was complete. I will never forget that day for the rest of my life.
10. What role can parents play in shaping a child’s career?
Over the last few years, I have been noticing that children are getting addicted to video and computer games. They are not expected to understand the damaging impact it can have because they are not mature enough, but parents should understand the risks. They should never allow children to get anywhere close to video games.
11. What’s your message to children?
I’d say nothing beats hard work. Like I had said earlier in this interview, children should be positive, work hard and be patient. Never study for the results. Study to gain knowledge and results will follow.
12. ParentCircle has been striving to improve the quality of family life. Any message for us?
Your team is doing a great job. And such a relevant one too. After all, a great bond between a parent and a child is essential for our children to enjoy great careers. It is so nice to hear that ParentCircle is enabling that process.
ParentCircle and Super 30 seem to be having many things in common, the most common being our love for students. We wish you good luck for all your future endeavours.
Hall of Fame
- In 2019, he was awarded the Education Excellence Award 2019 by the Foundation For Excellence (FFE) in the US.
- In 2018, he was honoured with the Global Education Award.
- In 2011, he was selected by a magazine as ‘one of the global personalities who have the ability to shape exceptionally talented people’.
- In 2010, he was awarded the S. Ramanujan Award by the Institute for Research and Documentation in Social Sciences (IRDS).
- In 2010, was given the top award of Bihar government, "Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad Shiksha Puraskar.”
- In 2009, he was induced in the Limca Book of Records (2009) for his contribution in helping poor students pass the IIT-JEE by providing free coaching.
Also read: IIT entrance coaching – points to ponder
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