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For the second year in a row, two students from Sigaram NEET Coaching center at Aranthangi have secured MBBS seats during medical counseling this year. Thisaigal Vazhikatti Maiyam runs the Sigaram Free NEET Coaching Center. This is not the usual kind of coaching center at all. It is run by a group of old students from two different government schools of Aranthangi.
Thisaigal Vazhikatti Maiyam has been running the coaching center in collaboration with the Aranthangi branch of Indian Medical Association since 2018.
This year, 19 students attended NEET coaching at Sigaram. Among them, Shamsiya Afrin from Merpanaikadu Government Higher Secondary School got a seat in Chennai Stanley Medical College. Afrin is the first student from the village to get an MBBS seat. Despite being afflicted by polio at a young age, just like her father Abdul Muthaleef, Afrin was not one to let her disability get in the way of her aim. And with help from Sigaram coaching center, she is now able to get a medical education. After completing MBBS, Afrin aspires to do her masters in gynecology.
Another candidate, Nagarajan from Chidambara Viduthi Government School, has secured an MBBS seat in Kanyakumari Medical College. Nagarajan hails from Silaiyur and his father runs a petty shop. Like Afrin, Nagarajan is also the first graduate in his family.
Thisaigal Vazhikatti Maiyam was started in 2005 after 30 old students from Aranthangi Govt Boys Hr Sec School and Girls Hr Sec School came together to run career guidance programs for rural students around Aranthangi town. The guidance program includes sessions on various courses, institutions and all the free scholarship schemes that are available for students.
Thisaigal Vazhikatti Maiyam was started in 2005 after 30 old students from Aranthangi Govt Boys Hr Sec School and Girls Hr Sec School came together to run career guidance programs for rural students around Aranthangi town.
The organization also runs sanitation awareness programs for rural people. During the Gaja cyclone in 2018, volunteers from Thisaigal Vazhikatti Maiyam held sanitation camps for the affected villagers.
Dr S Dakshinamurthy, coordinator of the Sigaram NEET Coaching Center, says Thisaigal Vazhikatti Maiyam decided to start the free facility after NEET was mandated by the central government. They realized that government school students would not be in a position to crack NEET without adequate coaching. “They can’t afford to pay for the coaching. So, we started the free training center,” he says.
The coaching center does not filter out students while admitting them for the free coaching program. They are not required to take any entrance exams to be eligible for the coaching. Any government school student is welcome to join.
Dakshinamurthy said that IMA Aranthagi does its bit to help them. IMA president Dr Lakshminarayanan is a pillar of support, he says.
The coaching is held at IMA Hall in Aranthangi. The coaching center provides free transportation to students attending the coaching. When students attend classes in school, the coaching is held on weekends from 9 am to 4 pm. After the students’ Class 12 exams get over, the coaching classes take place every day from 9 am to 2 pm. Students are offered tea and snacks as well.
When they started the coaching center in 2018, 54 students enrolled and nine of them managed to crack NEET. In 2019, 17 out of 104 students cleared the national entrance examination. However, none of them could get a medical seat, Dakshinamurthy said.
Subsequently, when the Covid-19 lockdown was announced in 2020, the coaching went online. Nine students out of 19 who attended the coaching cleared NEET. Two of them got MBBS seats that year while one got a BDS seat at Annamalai University Dental college.
The free NEET coaching is held at IMA Hall in Aranthangi. The coaching center provides free transportation to students attending the coaching. Students are offered tea and snacks as well.
For the second year in a row, two students have got MBBS seats this year. “It is a small reward for our work,” says Dakshinamurthy.
Biology teacher Murugan plays a key role in coaching. Baskaran, a school teacher, acts as project director of the coaching program. These two teachers put in a lot of effort to run Sigaram NEET Coaching Center. “We are determined to get as many government students to become doctors as possible in the coming years. We won’t let down any more ‘Anithas’ to their fate,” says Dakshinamurthy, referring to a NEET aspirant’s tragic death by suicide in 2017.
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