Chennai: When NEET was introduced last year, students in the State were left searching for answers as to what went wrong. Such was the state of those hailing from different mediums of education.
Although help came from the State Education Department, it was in the hands of the teachers to make a difference.
One such person was R Soundarapandian, a zoology teacher from Ambattur, who has more than 25 years of experience and can teach both Tamil and English medium students.
“When NEET was implemented, the first thing that struck me was that its execution was bad. Students did not have any books to refer to and were left worried that their dreams will get shattered,” he recalls.
He was also among the few qualified teachers that the State government selected to coach students and teachers alike last year. “I got a call from the District Education Office and worked with the Chief Educational Officer to train teachers. I was part of an exclusive five-member team,” says the 56-year-old.
Ask him why he started giving out study materials for free, Soundarapandian says, “Students did not have proper guidance. In many cases they were the first in the family to attend school. So, help from their home is less than little in these cases. That is when I started giving out study materials. When a student contacts me, I will guide him / her, and send the notes via WhatsApp so that it reaches them instantly,” the teacher says.
He continued, “I download a book and send it to the students. Children prefer this because one NEET preparatory book costs a whopping Rs 500 for the Tamil version. Students from poor economic backgrounds cannot afford them. So, when I send the notes, they take a printout and start their preparation for the exam.”
Last year, he had also trained hundreds of students at the NEET coaching centres organised by the Education Department at Sriperumbudur.
The reality, according to Soundarapandian, is that it will take a couple of years more for students of the State to crack the exam to place the same number of seats as they did before the exam was implemented.
“It took them (students) by surprise. But the transformation is amazing. Students adapt fast nowadays. Awareness is fast spreading and, guess what, they are keen to help their fellow mates as well,” says he.
According to him, the book prepared by the State government needs to be made better. “A lot of teachers work on the book. However, the person who finalises it is a college professor, who, in my opinion, has not fully understood how school students think,” says the teacher.
Through his ways, Soundarapandian is well-known among the student fraternity and he says he gets calls from the southern districts as well. “As ever, I am keen to help students. That has been my passion and will not go away,” he states.
Reiterating the fact that ‘once a teacher, always a teacher’, Soundarapandian says, “I want to reach out to the poorest of the poor. They need motivation as they are so many hardships that stop them from moving forward. I will be there for them.”
Soundarapandian can be reached at 9841147705.