Home > News > India News > Article > Pune coaching school has been helping poor kids crack the IIT dream

Pune coaching school has been helping poor kids crack the IIT dream

Updated on: 07 May,2017 10:30 AM IST  |  Pune
Chaitraly Deshmukh |

Run by an NRI, Dakshana Foundation, in the remote village of Kadus in Khed (Pune), has for the last nine years been providing home and education to underprivileged, bright minds with an aim to change their future

Pune coaching school has been helping poor kids crack the IIT dream


The Dakshana coaching school, which has centres in Khed, Bundi and Kottayam, has over 140 boarders. The centre aspires to train over 2,000 students each year. Pics/Upendra Shah
The Dakshana coaching school, which has centres in Khed, Bundi and Kottayam, has over 140 boarders. The centre aspires to train over 2,000 students each year. Pics/Upendra Shah


As a child, Preeti Radhe Banjare harboured only one wish - she wanted to become an engineer and design gadgets. That dream nearly smashed to smithereens when she completed her Class XII exams. Though she scored 90 per cent, Preeti, who had been orphaned as a child, found herself at a crossroads, when her relatives pressurised her to get married. Determined to not let anyone get in the way of her dreams, Preeti went bald in order to kill any matrimonial prospects. Now, 19 years old, she confesses that she would have sunk into depression, had the volunteers of Dakshana Foundation not reached out to her school in Chhattisgarh last year.




Today, Preeti is among the 70 children - handpicked by Dakshana - to have successfully cracked the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE), one of the toughest examinations at the undergraduate level. However, it is the JEE Advanced, scheduled for May 21, which will finally seal their future. "JEE Main is just the beginning of the journey to getting into the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT). The tougher and final step is to clear JEE Advanced," said Falguni Bannerjee, PRO, IIT Bombay, said.

(Extreme left) Preeti Radhe Banjare, who hails from Chhattisgarh, is among the 36 girls, who enrolled at the Dakshana coaching centre in Kadus, Khed, last year
(Extreme left) Preeti Radhe Banjare, who hails from Chhattisgarh, is among the 36 girls, who enrolled at the Dakshana coaching centre in Kadus, Khed, last year

Since 2009, the foundation, located in the village of Kadus in Khed, which is 60 km from Pune, has been providing free coaching to students from economically weaker sections of the society, preparing for the JEE.

With 100 per cent success rate at the JEE this year, the foundation is now spearheading the movement to liberate several first-generation learners from the shackles of poverty. Dakshana, which has tied up with seven Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas (JNVs) - set up by the HRD ministry for poor students - across India, also has centres in Bundi, Rajasthan and Kottayam in Kerala. All the students live at these centres for a year during their coaching.

Sharmila Pai, chief operating officer of Dakshana
Sharmila Pai, chief operating officer of Dakshana

Giving wings to dreams
Until eight years ago, Dakshana, which runs on a massive 109-acre property, used to be home to a resort and spa centre. However, Mohnish Pabrai, a philanthropist and NRI based out of the USA, bought the place and converted it into an educational space for the underprivileged. "Our vision is to help thousands of families in India overcome poverty. We believe that education is the most powerful tool that can lead people towards the light of livelihood," said Parbai, who is founder and managing partner of Pabrai Investment Funds in the US.

The centre selects students on the basis of merit. Following a written test, which is conducted between January and March in the seven JNVs across India, Dakshana conducts personal interviews, before selecting the final set of students, who are then trained for JEE.

According to Sharmila Pai, chief operating officer of Dakshana, the centre spends around Rs 1.76 lakh on each student. "Apart from coaching, we also assist the students in securing scholarships and loans to help fund their education," said Pai.

This year, the centre also launched free coaching for National Eligibility and Entrance Test (NEET). Of the 140 students at Dakshana, 50 per cent will be appearing for the national exam, which is also scheduled today.

While Dakshana is trying to reach out to more female students, they have only managed to get 36 girls enroll at their centre. "We are finding it difficult to convince the parents to give custody of their daughters for a year," admits Pai.

However, some parents were more than happy to have their kids enroll at the coaching school. Take the example of Sadiqua Mohammad Bashir Mehroom (19), who hails from Jammu and Kashmir. Sadiqua's father, a farmer by profession, wanted his daughter to become a doctor. So, when the opportunity came knocking, he didn't think twice before sending her to Kadus. Sadiqua, who is preparing for NEET, said, "Because of the problem in my state, the situation in our village is always critical. There have been times, when our school only remained open for 50 days in the entire year. It became impossible for me to study there. But, I want to work in my village and improve the medical facilities there," she said.

Rigorous training
During the year-long coaching, the residential campus follows very strict rules. No television or cellphones are allowed inside Dakshana. "The scholar's day begins at 5 am. After two hours of physical training, they are served breakfast at 7 am. The coaching class begins an hour later, and goes on till 12 noon. After lunch break, they do problem-solving exercises for three hours," said retired colonel Ram Kumar Sharma, CEO of the campus.

"Later in the evening, the students are allowed to play or study. To de-stress, the students are also taught yoga, meditation and other games," he added.

Shubham Raju Chandkar (19), who hails from Hingoli in Nanded said, "Studying here is like a dream. I want to make most of the facilities available here, so that I can become a doctor someday, and help people in my village."

Another 19-year-old Neeraj Kumar Rathod from Chhattisgarh said, "This is our second home. Here, we are able to focus on academics without any distraction."

Professor Amitkumar Dwivedi (27), an alumnus and beneficiary of this course, agrees. Dwivedi cleared the JEE in 2009 after receiving free coaching at this centre. He later took up engineering in electronics and communication.

"Though I got good offers from abroad, I decided I wanted to be part of this organisation and train the students here. This place gave me a new identity, which is that of an engineer. Otherwise, I would have been just another farmer."

However, some parents were more than happy to have their kids enroll at the coaching school. Take the example of Sadiqua Mohammad Bashir Mehroom (19), who hails from Jammu and Kashmir. Sadiqua's father, a farmer by profession, wanted his daughter to become a doctor. So, when the opportunity came knocking, he didn't think twice before sending her to Kadus. Sadiqua, who is preparing for NEET, said, "Because of the problem in my state, the situation in our village is always critical. There have been times when our school only remained open for 50 days in the entire year. It became impossible for me to study there. But, I want to work in my village and improve the medical facilities there," she said.

Rigorous training
During the year-long coaching, the residential campus follows very strict rules. No television or cellphones are allowed inside Dakshana. "The scholar's day begins at 5 am. After two hours of physical training, they are served breakfast at 7 am. The coaching class begins an hour later, and goes on till 12 noon. After lunch break, they do problem-solving exercises for three hours," said retired colonel Ram Ku-mar Sharma, CEO of the campus.

"Later in the evening, the students are allowed to play or study. To de-stress, the students are also taught yoga, meditation and games," he added.

Shubham Raju Chandkar (19), who hails from Hingoli, Nanded said, "Studying here is like a dream. I want to make the most of the facilities available, so that I can become a doctor someday, and help people in my village."

Another 19-year-old Neeraj Kumar Rathod from Chhattisgarh said, "This is our second home. Here, we are able to focus on academics without any distraction."

Professor Amitkumar Dwivedi (27), an alumnus and beneficiary of this course, agrees. Dwivedi cleared the JEE in 2009 after receiving free coaching at this centre. He later took up engineering in electronics and communication.

"Though I got good offers from abroad, I wanted to be part of this organisation and train the students here. This place gave me a new identity, which is that of an engineer. Otherwise, I would have been just another farmer."


This website uses cookie or similar technologies, to enhance your browsing experience and provide personalised recommendations. By continuing to use our website, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy. OK