Neha Badrai (22), currently pursuing a Bachelors of Business Administration (BBA) from Xavier Institute of Tribal Education (XITE), had never considered doing an MBA. Originally from West Singhbhum in Jharkhand, this Scheduled Caste (SC) student decided to give it a try since her institute in collaboration with XLRI School of Business and Human Resources, Jamshedpur started a new SC/ST MBA coaching class last September. For Neha’s batchmate, Anupama Soreng, on the other hand, the new course was like a dream come true since she always wanted to do an MBA. Born into a family of farmers, Anupama is keen to break the mould and take on a corporate life. Both the girls are eagerly awaiting a chance to do well in the ensuing MBA entrance exams.
The primary idea of these classes was to secure SC/ST students entry into MBA institutes sans the ‘reservation’ route. According to Father E Abraham SJ, Director, XLRI, and one of the pioneers behind the idea, the idea is to help SC/ST students achieve dreams on their own. “Jharkand has a huge number of SC/ST students who do not have the best of opportunities in life. Though the government has provided them reservation in government b-schools, as an educational centre, it is our duty to help these students to do well in life on their own terms.”
Towards this end, XLRI has given XITE a grant of Rs 1 crore to be used over a time-frame of 5 years. These funds have been allocated to set up the infrastructure for running the coaching classes, building a computer centre, and towards creating publicity through advertisements. The actual coaching is carried out by a set of enthusiastic PGDM students of XLRI, in a bid to give back something to society.
Having finalised the plans for these classes during the second half of 2011, the authorities had little time to advertise or promote the course amongst students of the state. Thus, the first batch of 24 students, were those pursuing their third year in BBA from XITE itself and are now in the final year of their course. In addition, the coaching classes began in September 2011, which gave the candidates little time to prepare for the entrance exams. Yet, the students took the exams but none of them fared too well.
According to Father EA Augustine SJ, Director for Xavier Institute of Tribal Education, the idea this time is to expand the advertising range of the course not only to heavily-tribal infested places like Ranchi, Hazaribagh, Chaibasa and Dumka in Jharkhand but also other states like Bihar and Odhisha.
Praising the efforts made by XLRI students in lending a hand towards training of the SC/ST students, Father Augustine said, “The XLRI students put in a lot of work towards this project. While a couple of teachers from XITE had been asked to look in on the classes, everything from the course structure, to the teaching sessions as well as individual mentorship had been provided by the XLRI students.”
The concerned XLRI group of students are as enthusiastic about the coaching classes as the SC/ST students are. One such, Chandrani Bhattacherjee, said that the proposal to start such a project was received well among the students. “We sent in a group mail about the project to the batch and were overwhelmed with the number of students willing to work on it,” Chandrani told PaGaLGuY.
Initially, a few XLRI students interacted with SC/ST students to understand their requirements. “While most of them seemed comfortable with Quantitative Aptitude, English seemed to be the weak point for many,” Chandrani said. She added that once a rough idea had been formulated about the requirements of the students, a core group of about 20 students was formed to handle the coaching classes in its entirety, including deciding a formal course structure.
Sneha Joshi, another XLRI student connected with the project said that the core group drew upon their own coaching lessons while preparing for MBA to form the course schedule. “We asked for regular feedback from the students and altered our teaching methods accordingly,” Sneha said. She added that each one of the SC/ST students in the coaching classes had been provided with a personal mentor from amongst the XLRI student community.
XLRI has also approached a number of coaching institutes to help with the mock test papers for this year’s classes. “We have finalised a deal with one of the coaching institutes. It will provide us the mock test papers at a fee. However, staff members at XITE will be in-charge of conducting the mock tests,” Father Augustine said.
In the first stint, classes were held five times a week and students travelled from XITE to XLRI and back by a bus specially arranged for them. A similar schedule will be put in place this year too. As yet, the coaching provided was free of coast but the idea is now to levy a minimal fee of Rs 1000-1200 per month. “If we do not charge a fee, students will not take the classes seriously,” said Father Augustine. He also specified that while the coaching provided to students will be XAT-specific, they are free to appear for the other MBA entrance exams too.
The enrollment process for the classes will begin around the second week of May. The new session of the coaching classes is scheduled to begin from 2 July, 2012.