UPSC topper’s success shines spotlight on residential coaching academy in Jamia: ‘We listen to students’

Jamia Millia Islamia’s Residential Coaching Academy (RCA), from where UPSC AIR 1 Shruti Sharma did her coaching, has produced over 260 civil servants ever since it was established in 2010. The RCA provides free coaching to underprivileged sections and has over the years hit headlines for many of their students clearing the UPSC exams.

“Ever since its inception in 2010, RCA has produced more than 266 Civil Servants and 403 in other Central and State Services, including many All India rankers, like Mr Junaid Ahmad (AIR-3) in 2017 and Mr Faiz Aquil Ahmad (AIR- 17) in 2013, ”said Jamia PRO Ahmed Azeem.

“RCA provides free coaching and training to underprivileged students from four categories – women, minority, SCs and STs – with 24 × 7 library facility and an ecosystem which is one of the best in the country for aspirants of the Civil Services and other competitive examinations . They are selected through an all-India test, ”he said.

Jamia’s RCA began as a project by the UGC for five universities – Aligarh Muslim University, Jamia Hamdard, Jamia Millia Islamia, MANUU in Hyderabad and Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University, Lucknow. The RCA at Jamia was the last to start in 2010.

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“I think we are successful based on three pillars – good team of teachers in the beginning, good and serious students that are filtered through the all India tests, and good ecosystem that includes 24 × 7 library, group discussions, mock interviews and a very good campus, ”said Mohammad Tarique, Deputy Director RCA and Associate Professor.

For teaching, the RCA usually hires teachers from the outside, although sometimes teachers within the university also take classes.

“We get professional trainers from Mukherjee Nagar and Rajinder Nagar usually because you know university teachers are different in terms of teaching. Some time on some topics on certain issues like economics and history, we do invite some internal faculty also. If we conduct around 200 classes, usually 5-6 would be internal, the rest are by external coaches, ”said Tarique.

The RCA usually covers around 600 to 700 hours of classes in one year of coaching, but this was affected during the pandemic. Still, it has continued to perform, with several students clearing the UPSC each year. This year, 23 students from the RCA cleared the UPSC.

The popularity has been such that the channel Sudarshan News had in 2020 done a show on the “infiltration of Muslims” in the civil services through the RCA and termed it “UPSC Jihad”. Jamia had then written to the Ministry against the “tarnishing” of its image, and the I&B Ministry, in its affidavit to the Supreme Court, said the news show could promote “communal attitudes”.

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As the RCA gains more recognition, Tarique said there is an urgent need to increase the honorarium of teachers. “As of now we are paying Rs 1,500 for 90 minutes. Most people charge Rs 8,000-9,000 for one hour. Many of them come out of their conviction because they wanted to do something for the underprivileged. But otherwise who will work at such rates? We should give at least 50% of the market rate, ”he said, adding that he had raised the issue with the UGC.

He said the success of the coaching academy also lies in its “bottom up approach”. “We listen to the students about which classes they want more and what mock tests are benefitting them and adjust accordingly. It is not a top down approach like in most other places, ”said Tarique.

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