A 17-year-old girl from Mumbai, Malvika Raj Joshi, does not possess Class X or XII certificate but has made it to the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
The MIT has a provision for accepting students who are medal winners at various Olympiads (Maths, Physics or Computer) and it was Malvika’s medals that ensured that she can fulfill her aspirations of pursuing research work in her favorite subject — Computer Science.
Here is a story about a mother’s conviction to break stereotypes and the self-belief of her teenage daughter, who showed why “merit” has more weight than “marks”.
The Mumbai girl stopped going to school after class 7. She never appeared for class 10 or class 12 board examinations either.
Malvika’s dream institutes IITs rejected her candidature because they have strict rules about passing the 12th standard board exams. MIT (Massachusetts Institute Of Technology), Boston, however, accepts students who have excelled in Olympiads.
Malvika Joshi was pulled out of school after class 7, as her parents felt that she would be happier studying and learning outside of the confines of the four walls of a school classroom. It was her mother’s idea to tutor her daughter herself and so she stopped sending her to school. Joshi’s mother quit her own job, simulated a classroom for her daughter and designed an academic course herself. Malvika’s mother said, “We are a middle-class family. Malvika was doing well in school. But somehow I felt that my children need to be happy. Happiness is more important than conventional knowledge.”
Malvika suddenly became happy and was learning more than ever. She became passionate about acquiring knowledge. It is during this time she started exploring subjects and stumbled upon programming.
She discovered that she had an incline and a natural talent for programming. She got into an M.Sc course Chennai Mathematical Institute and later also represented India at International Programming Institute, three times!
Malvika’s story is an eye opener for those who don’t believe in challenging rote learning and studying just for the purpose of passing exams and getting good grades and accumulating degrees. We need a new way to look at education and more importantly, focus on learning, instead of exams and scores.