Home Schooled Genius
17 year old Malvika Raj Joshi doesn’t have any formal class X or XII qualifications, and she’s going going to the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on scholarship. The Mumbai girl is set to pursue Bachelor of Science degree, after IIT ignored the three-time medal winner (two silver and a bronze) at International Olympiad of Informatics.
Unlike the IITs, which rely on a ruthlessly tough entrance examination, MIT invites real geniuses - medal winners at various Olympiads (Maths, Physics or Computer).
Unschooling so she could learn more
Malvika recalls those early days during an emailed interaction from Boston. "When I started unschooling, that was 4 years back, I explored many different subjects. Programming was one of them. I found programming interesting and I used to give more time to it than to other subjects, so, I started liking it at that time," she says.
She’s so intelligent that the only institute she cracked, the Chennai Mathematical Institute (CMI) was where she could enter at an M.Sc level course .
She was in class VII at Dadar Parsee Youth Assembly School in Mumbai and doing exceedingly well in academics when her mother decided to pull her out of school. "We are a middle class family. Malvika was doing well in school but somehow I felt that my children (she has younger daughter Radha) need to be happy. Happiness is more important than conventional knowledge," Supriya said explaining her decision. I was working with an NGO that takes care of cancer patients. I would see students who are in 8th or 9th standard being affected by cancer. It affected me deeply and I decided that my daughters need to be happy."
"There is absolutely no question that Malvika's admission to MIT is based on her superlative achievements at IOI. It is a credit to MIT's flexibility that they can offer admission to a student who demonstrates excellent intellectual potential despite having no formal high school credentials," says CMI's Madhavan Mukund, who is also National Co-ordinator of Indian Computing Olympiad.
However, Madhavan made it clear that Malvika is not a product of the system but despite it.
"This is possible only for a student whose academic achievements are outstanding, which is the case with Malvika's performance at IOI," he has a word of caution.
And it worked.
"Suddenly I saw that my daughter was so happy. She was learning more than ever --from the time she woke up to the time she was off to sleep. Knowledge became a passion," the proud mother recalls.