Malvika Raj Joshi made it to Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, and it made headlines. She is an ordinary girl hailing from Mumbai and the only thing that sets her apart is the fact that she is NOT a product of CBSE, ISCE or even IB, but was home-schooled by a curriculum set by her mother.
A Little Background
Malvika was initially enrolled in Dadar Parsee Youth Assembly School, Mumbai and did extremely well in her academics. The decision to leave a formal education system was made by her mother when Malvika was in the seventh standard.
Malvika’s mother, Mrs. Supriya Joshi had been working with an NGO that helped cancer patients. Her work made her realize the importance of being happy, and as a mother, she wanted the best for her children; most importantly she wanted them to be happy.
The Decision To Home-school
Supriya did not want her children to fall prey to the rat race that is explicitly promoted in schools. She wanted her children to be happy and was confident that the current education system will not guarantee that.
It was a difficult task to convince Malvika’s father, Mr. Raj Joshi, to agree to home-school their two daughters, but Supriya was hell-bent on her decision and set up a classroom environment at home, and even worked out a curriculum for the girls.
The Journey To MIT
With the new curriculum in place, it wasn’t long before her mother noticed a positive change in Malvika’s attitude towards studies. She was happy and soon developed an interest in programming.
She started spending a lot more time in understanding and learning different programming languages. For the kind of knowledge Malvika had gained, she was eligible for an M.Sc level program at the Chennai Mathematical Institute (CMI).
The institute helped her prepare for competitive exams. It was her interest and determination that helped her in representing India at the International Programming Olympiads for three consecutive years.
Luckily enough, MIT does have provision for students who are awardees at various Olympiads (math, physics, and computer).
For a student like Malvika, MIT welcomed her with open arms. It is hard to imagine Malvika’s state if she had tried to get into any of the IITs in India that value marks especially 10th and 12th board exams, both of which were not taken by her.
And We Are Back To OUR Education System
Malvika’s case brings into light the fact that besides the role the education system plays in the lives of students, it is the parents who make the major difference.
The steps that were taken Malvika’s parents were drastic and need a lot of effort and courage. Deciding on a flexible curriculum and making sure that they are accepted is a difficult task, but is clearly not impossible.
It is also made clear that the cycle of marks and structure are not just restricted to schools.
The speculated information of Malvika being rejected by IIT is not true, but even if it were it shows that even a student of such high calibre can be rejected by an esteemed university because of the mere fact that she hadn’t taken up the BOARD exams (which mostly run on moderated marking).
It is sad to note that talent and knowledge obtained through any means, is not well appreciated and accepted in this country.
As portrayed by Malvika, one can only thrive if education is obtained through pleasure and not force. It will probably be long before our education system realises this, and works towards building an environment that is inviting and promotes learning and not rote learning.
Although, if constant nagging works, then, why not?
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Views presented in the article are those of the author and not of ED.