We want to make a generation of 9-12 hardworking and train them and coach them so that they get admissions in good universities, medical colleges and engineering colleges, says founder Dr. Abdul Qadeer
Mumtaz Alam | Clarion India
NEW DELHI — Thirty winters ago, a young civil engineer, in his mid-twenties, leaves a lucrative job in an MNC and starts a nursery school with only 17 kids, mostly of his family and friends, in a rented room of an under-construction building in a bylane of his hometown Bidar of Karnataka.
In three decades now, that nursery school has become the Shaheen Group of Institutions with 17,000 students enrolled in different programmes–from kindergarten to college degree courses. Here is the inspiring story of civil engineer Dr. Abdul Qadeer whose initiative has produced hundreds of engineers and doctors so far.
Around 400 students from Shaheen Group of Institutions have cleared NEET-2020 and are set to get free government medical seats.
In an exclusive interview with Clarion India, Dr Abdul Qadeer, Chairman of Shaheen Group of Institutions, talks about how a personal incident pushed him to open the nursery school, how tough were early days, when did success start coming and what his vision and plan are for North India:
When did you start this initiative and why?
I started it in 1989. I wanted to get my younger brother’s admission in a good school. There was no such school in Bidar. I worked hard to get him admitted to a residential school in Hyderabad. My parents were not ready but after I insisted, they agreed. After persuasion, recommendation, requests and also donation, I got him admitted. After three days, my brother came back from the school without permission. When we asked about the reason, he said he had stomach pain. We started his treatment in Bidar but with no improvement, we took him to Hyderabad for treatment. Whenever I told him I would take him to school if his pain withers, he would say he had pain. Then we took him to a famous doctor in Hyderabad. He conducted several tests on him and then he told us that the boy was telling lies and he had no problem. Then my parents were angry with me and said I was the cause of all these problems in the past 2-3 months. I stood there after being pronounced guilty.
Then I thought I am making all these efforts for the education of this boy, but not many families can afford it. What will happen to them? Then I thought about doing something for them. I decided to open a school. I was a civil engineer by profession, and was working with a company in Bidar. I left the job and opened a nursery school with just 17 students and one teacher on 1 December 1989 in a rented room of an under-construction building. The students comprised children of my family and some friends and acquaintances. I opened it in between the academic year. Generally, schools open in June, I did it in December. The room had no plaster and no flooring. I started it from LKG standard in Urdu medium.
After six months, I acquired a building on rent for Rs 600 a month. Soon, we got 100 students. And we shifted to another building whose rent was Rs 1000 a month. Gradually, we got 5-6 buildings. Then we started constructing our own buildings. Today, we have three campuses with 17,000 students enrolled from 23 states of the country and also children of NRIs from seven countries. Around 3,000 students live in our hostels.
How tough were the early days and when did you start tasting success?
In the early days, I faced lots of problems and hardships. Members of my family were also disappointed with me. Friends would laugh at me. In-laws also said that they were cheated–they thought I am an engineer who would go to Saudi Arabia or would become an officer and live in quarters but this ‘mad’ man has opened this Urdu medium in a bylane without any plan. That was, indeed, a disappointing time. However, they tolerated it. I also faced lots of financial problems because it is easy to run along the trends but to set a trend is certainly tough. We faced opposition and people would not want to pay fees to an Urdu medium school but it was ok for them to pay fees to an English medium school.
How did you spread your education chain in the south?
All three campuses are in Bidar district of Karnataka. Two for girls and one for boys. Outside Bidar, we have some franchises. In all, we have 42 institutions, including franchises and branches.
We give education from LKG to the degree level and after degree, we have started UPSC coaching also from this year.
Some major successes?
The breakthrough and success came 20 years ago. The number of students succeeding in medical entrance tests increase from 8 to 12 to 37 and now it is 400 government medical seats.
Why do you think people, including Muslims, in North India could not do as well in education as people in South India did?
Foundations are weak in North India. There are weaknesses in primary schools there. And there are lots of distractions also. There are not many facilities either in UP or Bihar. Schooling there is done separately and coaching separately. Foundation is separate from preparation. This is not the case in Karnataka where everything is given under one roof. Schools take all responsibilities of students from Class XI. We have 17,000 students and none of them takes coaching. Tuition is banned here. We take all education needs of the students. We try to fulfill our responsibilities to our best. There is no such institution or atmosphere in North. People with commercialisation aims are in a leading position there. Those who want to do service to society will have to face problem. They attract people with manipulated results.
You have started expansion of your institution in North India. What is your vision and plan for North?
If changes take place in the approach of Muslims in UP and Bihar, the condition of Muslims across the country will change. We want to open our centres and franchises in big cities there. We have opened centres in Delhi, Jamshedpur and Lucknow. We are opening such centres in other big cities. If one model gets successful and confidence is built up in Muslims that they can do it and run such institutions, then all people–Hindu, Muslim, rich and poor–will come to our centres. We should set up institutions for all communities and establish the atmosphere of brotherhood and harmony. Indeed, brotherhood and mutual love are among the most important needs of our country today.
We will establish the same culture, discipline and system in the North that is working in our campus in the South. We want to spread it. Here, students don’t use mobiles, can’t use automobiles until they have licences and our campus is free from the co-education system. It is also tuition-free. With an atmosphere free from distractions, and by giving moral education to children and providing them a clean and pure atmosphere, we have to make this generation strong and this system is a must for students between 9-12 classes. Only this way, we can make our country strong. To make the country strong, we have to make this generation strong. And this generation of class 9-12 has to be made disciplined, honest and strong. It is not necessary to make all of them doctors, but it is necessary to make them hard-working, honest and disciplined. We focus on this first and then they become doctors and engineers.
Initially, we are looking for opening campuses for students of Classes 9-12. I am not of the view to open medical colleges or engineering colleges; we want to make a generation of 9-12 hardworking and train them and coach them so that they get admissions in good universities, medical colleges and engineering colleges.
Are you successful in North India or are facing some roadblocks?
As we want to change the atmosphere, we are facing difficulties. If we start working along the prevailing trend there, then it will be easy for us but as we want to set a new trend and create a new atmosphere, we face problems. Some problems come up because of competition among institutions. We also faced some big problems. But we faced it patiently because we have a big purpose. We hope we will continue moving forward with our aim.
How was the response from people in Delhi and Lucknow?
The response was encouraging. People are appreciating our efforts and our successes. Particularly, they like our programme for Hafiz-e-Quran to connect them with modern education. We created this model in Bidar eight years ago. People are appreciating the culture of Shaheen institutions. We held press conferences in five places and got huge appreciation and good wishes.
We have the Hafizul Quran Trust. We admit many a Hafiz (who has memorised Quran) from across the country, improve their foundation and get them clear Class X in one year or one and a half years and then get them clear Class XII, and then get them admitted in degree courses. These are those children who never saw school in their life–and many of them have got admission in government medical colleges after three-year coaching with us.