, by SYYED MANSOOR AGHA
Topped All India SSC Exam, even in adverse conditions
SYYED MANSOOR AGHA features the success story of Mohd Ismat, who topped All India SSC Exam even in adverse circumstances.
Two years ago, in May 2010, Shah Faisal, a resident of a remote village Sogam of Kupwara District in strife torn Kashmir Valley, hit the headlines for his spectacular success in prestigious entrance examination of UPSC. He has a distinction to be the first to top the exam from J&K and only second Muslim candidate all over India to achieve this distinction. Dr. Faisal became an icon for those who do not have even basic facilities and favourable environment for education. His father, a school teacher, Gulam Rasool Shah was killed days before his entrance examination for MBBS. His mother, Mubeena Begum, also a school teacher, shifted to Srinagar with her family from her village after the killing of her husband to continue schooling of her children. It was a challenging task for Dr. Faisal as to sail against the stream to face the storm and reach the shore. Faisal did it with great determination.
MOHD ISMAT OF MANIPUR
This May there is another story of a boy Mohammad Ismat, from another far-flung village, Lilong in Thoubal District of hill state Manipur, which, like Kashmir, is a border state infected with insurgency. His name cropped up in the media for his feat of topping All India Senior School Certificate Examination (AISSCE), 2012 for Class XII conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), scoring 495 marks out of 500 (99.6%) in Science stream. He also became the first from North-East India to top the AISSCE. He earned 100% marks in Mathematics, Chemistry and Painting; 98% in Core English, and 97 in Physics.
There are striking similarities in the stories of Dr. Shah Faisal and Mohd Ismat. Both belong to insurgency-infected remote border areas of hill states lacking in basic facilities. Ismat’s father, Maulana Bashirur Rahman is also a primary school teacher in the village Primary Madrasa. Faisal lost his father Gulam Rasool Shah, as he had crossed 18 years of age. Ismat was more unlucky as he lost his mother Shahidan Bibi, when he was only 18 months old. His father and six elder sisters were left to take his care. Today the family is all proud of the youngest family member.
His father, Maulana Bashirur Rahman, is a practising Muslim. He is a teacher in a Lower Primary Madrasa in a village. With a meagre salary of Rs. 2000 a month, he managed to educate all his daughters. Ismat is a proud brother of six elder sisters, all graduates. It is not difficult to imagine how challenging has been the task for him to bring up seven children and educate them without their mother. And now he is all smile at 75, thanks to his 7th child.
TALENTED FROM CHILDHOOD
Ismat’s father says the boy has always been brilliant, topping throughout. In Class IX, secured 100 per cent in all subjects. “Even when the young boy scored 94.2 per cent in Class X, he’d topped the state of Manipur and finished second in the North-East. But being the first all-India topper from the North-East is an achievement that is second to none.”
Ismat grew with his sisters, all students and always engaged in studying. So a deep craze for reading and writing developed in him even before he could understand what education is. Maulana Rahman is happy and grateful to Allah the Almighty that his son has defied all odds and came out with flying colours.
“Ismat’s weak health and financial problems of the family were the main obstacles in his study,” said an excited Bashirur Rahman. He told reporters, “My happiness knew no bounds. My son has done it and I think he would definitely become a leader to guide thousands of poor students to become great personalities.”
“It was very unfortunate for my child to have lost his mother and then struggled with poverty at such a young age. Had she been alive today, how happy she would have been!” said Maulana, who has suddenly become a VIP, with his chocked voice.
Most persons with a family income of Rs 2,000 a month and eight members would probably first lament their lives and then blame their circumstances for any failure they may face. But Ismat’s story is different.
Ismat began his primary education in a local English medium school before switching over to a Kendriya Vidyalaya in Imphal where he studied up to Class 8. Later, he joined the Sainik School Imphal where he scored 94.2 per cent marks and stood second in the state in the Class 10 CBSE examination. However, money was always a constraint. Sainik School also did not consider his case for relaxation in fee. “Even after doing well in Class X, I could not get admission to any good school because of this,” he told a reporter.
However Allah helps them who help themselves. Ismat found a noble person in Mr. S Manaoton Singh, Managing Secretary of Zenith Academy, which stands unassuming at Sangaiporou near the Iskcon temple in Imphal West – a stark reminder that one must never judge a book by its cover.
“Sir SM Singh accepted my application for admission without charging much. It is with his guidance that I have come out with flying colours.”
Expressing his gratitude for the authorities of Zenith Academy, Ismat said: “The school authorities waived my tuition fees and the fees for the bus which helped me continue my studies.”
Ismat nearly missed out filling his Class XII registration forms as he couldn’t afford the amount required for the registration. Singh came to know about it and paid the required amount. He also allowed Ismat to stay in Academy even after school hours as his place gets just two to three hours of electricity in a day. Ismat told a reporter, “We can’t afford to buy invertors or generators. So we rely on candlelight in the evenings. It may sound filmy to most of you, but it is very common here in Manipur.”
Replying to a question, Ismat said, “I thank Allah and all the people who believed in me and supported me in helping make this dream come true. This success is not my own; I owe it to my school management, who funded my education and my father who brought me up despite financial restraints.”
Mr. Singh not only provided him with reading material but also guided him like a guardian. Mr. Singh said that Ismat is physically weak and had to be stopped from studying for long hours at one stretch. He used to study 8-10 hrs daily after his classes. In November 2011, he had to undergo a surgery which restricted him from sitting, therefore for almost three months he had to lie on his stomach and prepare. Ismat says, “It was painful and exhausting but I did my best. I had to put in an extra effort.”
Mr. Singh described his star pupil as ‘an ambitious, honest and simple student’. His teachers say his sincerity and discipline have enabled him prevail over his difficulties. “He scored 100 in the subject due to his clear mathematical concepts,” the academy’s mathematics teacher, Kangabam Ningthem Pishak told reporters.
Ismat did not take any specialised coaching. But he approached his teachers for help after school and they never refused. Ismat says, “I think coaching is important, but only to guide you, to improve the weaker areas. You can ask your teachers at school, your friends – anybody who is willing to help.”
It may be hard to believe that a school with barely any infrastructure – hardboard walls, rugged floor, and an improper roof – can produce a CBSE Class XII national topper.
Surprised at Zenith’s poor infrastructure, Manipur education minister M Okendra Singh said, “It is not a good building or sound infrastructure that produces good students. Sincere and collective efforts of teachers, students and the school management contribute to make a success story.”
The guiding force behind the success story of the six-year-old school is its management secretary, S Manaoton Singh. He attributes Zenith’s success to “certain techniques” applied in the school. “The management appoints the best and sincere teachers to groom the students wholeheartedly and monitor progress of each student.
Ismat has been offered financial assistance from various corners for his extraordinary achievement. Zenith Academy has announced that the school management committee would take care of all the financial requirements of Ismat for his further studies. Md. Abdul Nasir, MLA of Lilong Assembly Constituency and Minister in-charge of Agriculture and Sericulture has announced a cash reward of Rs. 1, 11,111 for his achievement. MLA N. Biren has also assured to offer a cash prize of Rs. 20,000 to Ismat. Manipur State Minorities Commission has also decided to extend all possible assistance to Ismat.
When a reporter asked him, “Who do you seek inspiration from?” Ismat said, “My father would often tell me stories of Prophet Muhammad and legends of great men who braved tough situations and emerged successful. I am greatly inspired by the life and times of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be to him). He has left behind great messages for each one of us, for every situation.”
In a message for youngsters, he said, “Nothing is impossible. In life, whenever you are sad, you must remember good experiences and motivate yourself to see better ones. We all fail at some point. But it is important to look at failures as stepping stones that will lead you to success. To achieve bigger success, you have to be patient and let the bad times pass.
Concentration is the key to success in any exam. You have to work hard to improve your concentration. There will be many distractions in your way, but you must not lose focus. The bigger goal should always inspire you to confront all challenges and obstacles in your path.
His ambition is to study Physics in St. Stephens College in Delhi and sit for UPSC exam.
[The writer is V.P., All India Education Movement. Email: email@example.com]