Aiming Big

An engineer turned businessman, Mohammed Shahid Dar is on a journey to make a significant change in the education sector in Kashmir. He aspires to train students in Kashmir to get through competitive examination in IITs and AIIMS. Syed Asma reports

Mohammad Shahid Dar in his office

It is 10’O Clock in the morning. Shahid enters the room hastily, “I am sorry if I kept you waiting.” Without looking for an answer, he directly approached his messed-up table and started cleaning it up. Papers, books, folders, pens, pencils, are all spread across the table. He sat in his chair uncomfortably and started placing everything at its proper place- piled up files and papers on his left, kept all the colour pens in the pen holder placed adjacent to the pile of files. He likes to keep everything at a proper place, it seems.

Shahid wearing a neatly trimmed beard is in his early thirties and aspires to get the youth of Kashmir selected in IITs, AIIMS and other reputed colleges and universities of India. So far, not many from Kashmir have been able to make it there.

“I want Kashmiri’s to be successful and want to see them occupying significant positions,” Shahid says.

Shahid, a qualified engineer, is working on his dream since he is done with his post-graduation. After completing his Bachelor’s in Computer Engineering from SSM College of Engineering, Pattan, he moved to Rajasthan to pursue his post-graduation from Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS) Pilani.

“While studying in BITS Pilani, I realized the standard of our educational system is very poor and we are not trained in any way to compete at the national level,” says Shahid. He questions the content of books as well as the system of “guidance” in place including that of schools, colleges, universities and coaching centres.

“I want to upgrade the education system. I know it would be difficult to change the entire education system so I thought to use a different channel,” says Shahid, “I chose to guide a selected group of students who in future will crack competitive examination of IITs and AIIMS.”

Shahid believes cracking IITs and AIIMS is not that tough as Kashmiri’s think. Proper guidance and appropriate reading material will do wonders, he suggests.

There may be many who share Shahid’s dream but what makes him different is his clarity of thought and action plan. He knows what he wants and has planned everything.  For past many years he is working on making it a reality.

Three years back Shahid founded a trust, ‘Kashmir Education and Research Trust Limited’ and immediately started a coaching centre, ‘Crescent Classes’ in the city outskirts at Naseem Bagh.

The project is the brain child of Shahid and his uncle, Mehraj-ud-din Dar, who passed away last year, but the entire financial expenses were borne by Shahid’s father, Bashir Ahmed Dar. They so far have spent Rs 2-3 crores on the project.

Shahid belongs to a well-established business family. Dealing with fruits Dar own hundreds of kanals of orchards at Rangil.

In the first year of its function, only four of his students were able to make it to the professional colleges of the Valley. Not much satisfied with the results; Shahid geared up and started working more on the young brains in his centre. He started improving the already existing system.

From changing teachers to acting tough on students, Shahid tried everything to improve the results and it worked.

Reaping the result of his hard work of three years ‘Crescent classes’ this year managed to have an excellent result in the competitive examinations as 23 of his students qualified for MBBS and dozens for engineering.

“This year I achieved my target and next year I am hoping that 50 of my students will get through,” says Shahid.

“In near future I wish we have a clean sweep and all my students get qualified. We are working on it and will soon be successful.”

For excellent results Shahid credits his entire team for it. He presently manages a team of 34 members including eight professors, eight teaching assistants, three call operators, two computer operators and rest is the helping staff. Unlike other coaching centres most of the faculty here has completed their PhDs and have qualified the National Eligibility Test (NET) as well.

Three call operators managing a small call centre in the coaching centre have the duty of checking the attendance register and report card of every student. Parents of absentees and poor performing student is called up every week.  Students have to take a test every Monday.

“Shahid is a very tough teacher,” his students say, “but makes us work hard to have a better future.”

Crescent Coaching Centre, Srinagar Kashmir.
Crescent Coaching Centre, Srinagar Kashmir.

After seeing the success of ‘Crescent Classes’ the managing body of ‘Kashmir Education and Research Trust Limited’ this year took another leap and started a school, Crescent Public School. The school will be entertaining students from Class 9th to Class 12th. The school would be run by Shahid’s brother, Mohammed Shakeel Dar, an engineer, who resigned from the post of Head of the Department of Electronics, Baba Ghulam Shah University and joined Shahid to accomplish his dream.

Shahid after researching for many years wants to implement Delhi’s Fitji’s model of coaching.

“Under this model I along with my brother will be training students from Class 9th for IITs and AIIMS entrance examination to have better results,” he says.

Following the model, he will tie-up with some of the schools in Kashmir and will teach in synchronisation with them.This model is the most accepted as it helps the students to understand the concepts well and leaves little room for confusion and chaos.

Besides, Shahid has himself framed the syllabus and compiled books for students of his school and coaching centre. “The syllabus and books prescribed by our state board is of no use, at least for the national level competitive examination, so I prefer to prescribe my own books,” he says.

Their book covers read their name, ‘Crescent Classes’. To fetch good results in IITs and AIIMS the Crescent Public School and Crescent Classes would prefer to teach standard books. Explains Shahid, “I would prefer to teach syllabus of Class 11th in Class 9thand Class 12th in Class 10th, so on and so forth.”

He adds, “This is the main reason I am being choosy about my students. Studying Science and making it to IITs and AIIMS is not an easy job, so, I will be working on only a section of students.”

This year ‘Kashmir Education and Research Trust’ is expecting 1000 students to get registered with them, last year it was 800. The managing body keeping its fingers crossed are praying the Fitji model implemented this year should turn-out to be a success.

“If everything happens as per our plan we will be starting an engineering college soon,” concludes a young enthusiastic businessman Shahid.



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