Six ex-students of Juhu’s DJ Sanghvi College of Engineering, who like to call themselves the ‘Stupid Sid’ gang, have started a unique learning programme, which is a great alternative to expensive coaching classes. The Stupid Sid Learning Programme, started in January 2012, ropes in outstanding students from different engineering colleges in the city to tutor first-year engineering students at a nominal cost.
Kashyap Matani, a 23 year-old member of the group, recalls, “In February 2010, when we were in our third year, we developed a website (www.stupidsid.com), which was a one-stop solution for students aspiring to secure admission to colleges.” Soon after the site became a hit, a professor from Sardar Patel of Engineering, Andheri (west) approached the group and expressed his desire to teach junior students for free.
“The response was very good. We were charging students Rs 700 to teach Mathematics, instead of the exorbitant Rs 10,000 per subject per semester that coaching classes and private tutors charge these days,” says 23 year-old Sumeet Jain, another member of the group. “We charged them a nominal amount, as we had to incur the costs of renting out a place for the classes and electricity,” explains 22 year-old Shubham Doshi, another member.
It’s after other professors turned down the request to conduct similar classes citing lucrative deals with other coaching classes that a brainwave hit the sextet. “We decided to ask outstanding senior engineering students from reputed colleges in the city to teach junior students,” says 22 year-old Siddhaarth Bhandari.
They put up notices on their website inviting senior students and approached engineering colleges in the city. “We asked students who had applied to give us a demo lecture. Guides were selected based on their ability to explain concepts well,” explains 22 year-old Jinesh Bagadia. “We charge them Rs 1,500 per subject per semester. The student guide earns Rs 500 whereas the rest is kept aside for rent and electricity bills. The amount that is retained is kept aside for miscellaneous administrative costs,” explains Jain.
They managed to recruit six guides to teach students for the second semester in rented places at Dadar and Andheri. “Twenty three students signed up for the classes at Dadar and 80 students for the classes at Andheri for the batch in January this year,” smiles 23 year-old Tumull Buch.
The guides seem to have loved the teaching experience. Twenty one year-old Vaibhav Shah, fourth-year student at DJ Sanghvi, who teaches Maths to junior students, says, “We were in their position, three years ago, so we know exactly what doubts they may have.
It feels really great when a student calls you up and tells you that he/she passed with good marks.” Similarly, 20 year-old Anand Joshi from Sardar Patel College of Engineering, who teaches Mechanics, says, “Professors teach in the same old way they have been teaching for years. Being a student myself, it is easier for me to talk to the juniors in their language.”
Suryansh Haria, 18 year-old first-year engineering student of DJ Sanghvi, who attended the Stupid Sid Learning Programme in his second semester, agrees, “Since the generation gap is smaller, we don’t hesitate to approach them with doubts. The guides lay emphasis on practical learning and quote recent examples of new inventions. All this makes learning an interesting process.”
Encouraged, the team has now finalised twelve more guides, taking the total number to 18. This set will teach students during the first semester that began yesterday. There’s also a new centre coming up at Nerul.
“We plan to start similar learning programmes for students in Pune and Bengaluru. We want to end the blatant commercialisation of teaching in the name of coaching classes,” signs off Doshi.