N Jeevithkumar, the son of a shepherd in Tamil Nadu’s Theni district, scored 664 marks out of 720 in this year’s National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET). With his all India rank of 1,823, he has secured the highest rank amid the government-school candidates from across the country.
Jeevithkumar’s father rears goat for a living while his mother is an MGNREGA worker. He was a student of Government Model Higher Secondary school in Silvarpatti town near Periyakulam in Theni district. He had secured 548 in Class XII and was the district topper. This was his second attempt at taking the examination. Earlier, Jeevith had attended a 45-day NEET coaching camp organised by the government and wrote the exam but had failed to clear the test.
Sabarimala Jayakandhan, a former government school teacher who quit her job after the police halted her hunger-strike over the death of medical aspirant S Anitha is the architect behind Jeevithkumar’s success story. She had been meeting several schools and college students over the past three years and trying to help them succeed in their examination. She is also the founder of Pen Viduthalai Katchi, a party aimed to work towards the upliftment of women.
Speaking to indianexpress.com, Sabarimala Jayakandhan explained how Jeevithkumar succeeded in the entrance test which had been the topic of debate in the state for the past couple of years.
“After I tendered my resignation, I visited several schools and colleges in Tamil Nadu and spoke about the education system, how they can achieve their dream, etc. Under these circumstances, Arul Murugan, a part-time teacher in Silvarpatti government school approached me and said they have a kid in their school who is confident of cracking the NEET if he is provided the syllabus. I came to know that he has scored very good marks in the public examinations and wanted to pursue medicine. I immediately went there and spoke with Jeevithkumar and his parents to understand their situation and how I can help them. I asked Jeevith how much he thinks he can score in NEET and he replied he will score more than 650. He said if he becomes a doctor, he will help other government school students to achieve their dream and also promised that he will serve the people in Kuzhumur (the native village of medical aspirant Anitha),” Jayakandhan said.
Jeevith’s teacher Arul Murugan and the Silvarpatti school headmaster Mohan also made an immense contribution to his success. Due to the lockdown when the coaching center was shut, Murugan had stepped in and took Jeevith under his arms. Murugan, who himself earns around 7,000 per month had rented a room in the village and took care of Jeevith’s requirements. On a couple of occasions when Jeevith had fallen sick, Murugan took him to the hospital.
Though Jeevith had cleared the NEET, his dream of pursuing the medicine is hanging by a thread as the fees for medical colleges are beyond his family’s financial capability.
“Jeevith’s aim is to step into AIIMS. His headmaster and a couple of other teachers helped him clear the school fee. We raised funds for his NEET coaching, but for the next stage in his education, we need the government’s support,” Jayakandhan said.
On Friday, Jayakandhan posted a video on Facebook in which she said how she made a promise to Anitha, that she will make a government-school candidate crack the NEET exam. “Last year, in front of this same school I told Jeevithkumar that I am ready to support him and asked what promise will he make, he said he will score above 650 in the NEET exam. We enrolled him in a private coaching center in Namakkal. A friend of ours from the United States helped us with 75,000 for his education. Likewise, his teacher Arul Murugan, the Silvaarpatti school headmaster Mohan and many other people stepped in to help this kid. He said if we provide him the syllabus, he will secure good marks. He delivered what he promised, he scored 664 marks in NEET and stands as an example that rural students, government school students definitely can ace this examination. So far, 18 students have ended their lives after failing to crack the NEET examination, but Jeevithkumar’s success will put an end to this. If Jeevithkumar can succeed, any of my government school children can do,” she had said in the video.