An Assamese Muslim student tops the State’s High School Leaving Certificate (HSLC) examination, which may not make a national headline, but if the boy appears in the important tenth standard examination from a Hindu culture based institution, it may make an extraordinary news story. Such an amazing outcome was observed in Guwahati, when Sarfaraz Hussain topped the HSLC examination with 590 marks out of 600 (98.3 per cent) from Shankardev Shishu Niketan, run by Vidya Bharati affiliated to Assam Shishu Shiksha Samity.
Yet the result, which was declared on 31 May, did not surprise the people of Assam, as it was quite a natural phenomenon, but the correlation between the Muslim student and Vidya Bharati school, run by RSS Swayamsevaks, made ripples in national media outlets as an unusual happening.
However, Sarfaraz is not the first and only Muslim student to get education in a Vidya Bharati affiliated institution of Assam. There may be more than 20 Muslim students who are studying at the Betkuchi of Guwahati-based Shankardev Shishu Niketan.
But the acute poverty faced by 16 years old student, which he overcame to achieve the success, really made the news amazing. Sarfaraz’s father works in a city based hotel and his little earning compelled Ajmal Hussain to seek support from the institution, which was responded positively by the school management. Otherwise, it might have been difficult for Hussain to continue his son’s education. Hussain credited the Sarfaraz’s success to his hard work, teachers of the school and the Goddess Saraswati.
Over 381,500 candidates appeared in the examination conducted by the Board of Secondary Education Assam, where over 62 percent succeeded. Altogether 232 students topped the list of 20 meritorious positions, where 44 students belonged to various Vidya Bharati affiliated schools (inclusive of Sarfaraz). Vidya Bharati’s State entity Assam Shishu Shiksha Nyas runs 549 schools in the State. Now Assam government plans to establish more such schools as the Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma declared that every Panchayat of the State would have such institution.
In fact, Sarfaraz’s success came in an opportune moment for the newly inducted Bharatiya Janata Party-led government at Dispur. The first BJP chief minister of the State Sarbananda Sonowal was quick to appreciate and encourage all students for the hard work to the important examination. Moreover, his minister Sarma rushed to the residence of Sarfaraz and addressed a gathering in his school.
“We feel proud of Sarfaraz and many others like him. Moreover, I appreciate Shankardev Shishu Niketan for its continued success stories,” said minister Sarma after taking sweets and also Pranam from Sarfaraz. The minister declared that the government would fix an amount of rupees five lakh in the bank for his higher studies. As Sarfaraz wanted to study at Cotton College in Guwahati, Sarma assured that he would arrange free enroling for Sarfaraz in the prestigious century old institution.
“Not only Sarfaraz, but every meritorious student belonging to the weaker section of the society would be supported financially for relevant educational expenditures,” added the young minister. He also announced rupees ten lakh for the up-gradation of Shankardev Shishu Niketan and assured immediate maintenance of the approach road to the institution.
The elated headmaster of the school Akshay Kalita termed Sarfaraz’s success as an inspiring example for other students. He mentioned that Sarfaraz was fluent in Sanskrit and won many awards in Geeta reciting competition. Sarfaraz also had served as the secretary of Saraswati Puja committee in the school. The headmaster asserted that the school emphasises on quality education without religious colour.
“Along with my father, my school also played a vital role in whatever success, I have achieved today. I was expecting to be among the first ten positions, but my hard work brought me the real glory,” said Sarfaraz wearing an Assamese traditional Gamocha on his neck. Sarfaraz plans to pursue engineering after twelth. Sarfaraz remains confident that he would not let his parent and school teachers down in future as well. n