The RISE Blog

Stories about education. About students. From Kashmir

The first edition of RISE Talent Search Examination

15,000 students. 45 schools. 8 districts.

In the second half of the year 2014, team RISE envisioned a talent hunt activity to be conducted across the Kashmir region. The aim was to identify talented students, counsel them, connect them to experts of their fields of interest, and hence, encourage and facilitate them towards achieving their aims and ambitions. Given the education scenario is Kashmir, which is currently a mess, where even the brightest of students are not expected to chase excellence, instead are expected to settle for mediocrity, such an activity was need of the hour.
Due to the bureaucratic delay of getting the requisite permissions and the unfortunate floods in September 2014, we were unable to conduct the talent hunt last year.

The difficult, yet, encouraging start

Beyond the permissions, there wasn't any kind of support from the state government or the education department. This made approaching district educational officers very difficult. We realized that conducting such an examination without any organisational support from the government would involve huge costs, so we started looking for sponsors. Since we couldn't afford any further delays, we started with Rise Talent Search Examination(RTSE), while the search for a sponsor was still on. We conducted the first test at two Higher Secondary schools of Ganderbal District on May 16th. In this activity approximately 800 students of Classes 10, 11 & 12 participated. The test was a simple MCQ type, 1 hour and did not involve any costs for students or the schools.

Given that the activity was the first of its kind to be conducted in Kashmir, it received prominent coverage in the print media. The efficacy with which the activity was conducted also helped us convince J&K Bank, whom we were in talks with, to sponsor the entire operational costs of the Talent search examination.

"Conducting the first test was very important for us. It helped us in securing the sponsorship. It gave us a sense of direction on how to approach schools and/or educational officers in other districts. And more importantly, it gave us a belief that, no matter how difficult, conducting the talent search examination for the entire Kashmir region, on our own, wasn't impossible" - Imbesat, Co-Founder at RISE

The subsequent districts

The next district we approached was Bandipora. We directly approached the District Commissioner, Dr. Shah Faesal, given that he had taken a few initiatives w. r. t. education in Bandipora. The meeting with him was very fruitful, he ensured complete support from the district administration. Over the period of next one month, we were able to conduct RTSE for over 3000 students in Bandipora.

This was followed by RTSE being conducted in Srinagar and Shopian districts. With time, the more tests we conducted, the more our credibility increased, and it became easier for us to convince school or district educational authorities.

By the end of June we had conducted RTSE in Ganderbal, Bandipora, Shopian, Srinagar and Sopore districts for over 8000 students. We had simultaneoulsy initiated the tabulation of results. We decided to take a one week break and start conducting counseling sessions for the identified talented students

The interim counseling sessions

As the results started coming in, we were pleasantly surprised to see some exceptional performances. The original plan was to conduct counselling sessions for all the identified talented students post the completion of RTSE, but we decided to conduct a few counseling sessions for the class 11/12 science students whom we had already identified.

These sessions were conducted by JK-CET (Medical Entrance) Topper and IITians. Students also got to interact with alumni of RISE who had recently made it to prestigious engineering colleges of India.

"Attending this session was very beneficial. I was able to seek answers to various queries I had. I was also advised on the best strategies to follow while preparing for entrance examinations. Additionally, I was also made aware of the benefits and challenges of a career in Medicine " - Uroosa Gazi, student of Kothi Bagh school

Concluding phase 1

By the end of July we conducted RTSE at the left out schools of various districts we had already visited. We also conducted tests at Budgam, Pulwama and Baramulla districts. The response was overwhelming. On 28th July the count on the number of students who took the RTSE touched 15,000, and, we officially concluded the phase 1 of RTSE.

"To be honest, our initial target was to just cross 10,000 students. With time, every school we visited, we were able to identify bright talented students, who were ambitious but lacked any proper guidance. This motivated us to target more and more schools, so that we could identify as many talented students as possible and provide them with the necessary support/mentorship. This was the primary driving force and the reason for us to surpass our own target of 10,000 and touch 15,000" - Mubeen Masudi, Co-Founder at RISE

Based on the results tabulated, we were able to identify over 700 talented students from all over Kashmir of class 10, 11 & 12. These students belong to Humanities, Commerce, Medical and Non-medical streams. Subsequently, these students were invited to participate in the Level-2 of RTSE and attend the counseling sessions by experts.

Phase-2 and counseling sessions

The level 2 of RTSE was conducted on August 30that NIT Srinagar. The aim of this examination was to identify overall toppers of RTSE, and to subsequently, provide them with the prize money for their achievements. The results of the same are available here.

The one hour test was followed by counseling sessions. More than 400 talented students identified through first level of RTSE attended these counselling sessions. These sessions were conducted by

  1. Dr. Rumana Masudi (JKCET 2006 Topper) - for Medical Aspirants
  2. Mr. Raheel Khursheed, Head, News & Politics, Twitter India
  3. Mr. Mubashir Malik, C. A. - For commerce students
  4. Mr. Umar Rauf, IIT Roorkee alumnus - For Civil Service Aspirants and general counseling for Class 10 students
  5. Mr. Imbesat Ahmad, IIT Kharagpur Alumnus - for engineering aspirants
  6. Ms. Sahiba Maqbool, L. L. B.- for humanities students.
  7. Mr. Mubeen Masudi, IIT Bombay Alumnus - for engineering aspirants.

"I am really thankful to RISE for showing me the correct path that I should follow in order to achieve something big in life. The session on IIT was very helpful, I was made aware of the strategies I should follow, books I should read from and even the way I should plan my studies" - Reshi Aasif, student of Boys Hr. Sec, Sopore

The toppers of Level-2 of RTSE will be felicitated on October 11th by J&K Bank at their Corporate headquarters in Srinagar.

"The aim of these sessions was to make students aware of the kind of educational opportunities that lie ahead of them. These are certainly very talented students, but what they lack is awareness and guidance. Through these sessions we have taken care of the awareness part, now we are working on building a team of mentors and developing educational resources which would ensure a more sustained guidance being provided to these students in the pursuit of their aims and ambitions" - Imbesat

The next steps

We are working towards developing a more sustained mentorship programme for the identified talented students.
Given the success and expertise of RISE in JEE coaching, we plan to offer our coaching programme to the identified students of the non medical stream. We really hope that due to the combination of their talent & hardwork and the guidance these students receive from us, they are able to secure admissions to the prestigious engineering colleges of India, like, IITs, NITs, etc. We are still working on finding sponsors/donors for this activity, as the students we would cater to through this programme have minimal or no affordability. We are hopeful that we will be able to conduct this coaching programme for the identified talented students because if RTSE has taught us anything it has to be that nothing is impossible as long as you have the grit and determination to work towards it.