Pollachi VAOs champion free competitive exam coaching, transforming lives

Since 2019, the team of five VAOs has successfully guided eight batches, comprising over 700 students.
Two other officers take classes to competitive exam-aspirants in Pollachi
Two other officers take classes to competitive exam-aspirants in Pollachi(Photo | Express)

COIMBATORE: In 2018, K Amutha Priya was in a state of shock when her husband departed suddenly. The 35-year-old resident of Suleshwaranpatti near Pollachi didn’t know how to raise her two daughters. She juggled various jobs before taking up a teaching position at a private school. Nothing really helped to make ends meet.

Things, however, took a turn for the good when she cleared the TNPSC Group IV and Group II (A) examinations.

It all started when Amutha approached Pollachi Taluk office to apply for a certificate in 2019. One of the staff members, knowing her predicaments, directed her to a team of Village Administrative Officers (VAOs) in Pollachi. The team offers free coaching classes for competitive examinations for students from underprivileged backgrounds. What Amutha lacked was a focused strategy for preparation. Although she joined the classes 10 days prior to the examinations, the instructors’ valuable insights and guidance led to her clearing two examinations, consecutively.

Since 2019, the team of five VAOs has successfully guided eight batches, comprising over 700 students. Around 15 of the students have become officers across several departments and ranks.

S Narmadha Devi, one of the students, cleared the Group IV examinations in 2022 and is a typist at Pollachi sub-court. The coaching offered by the VAOs is better than those offered at private centres, says Narmadha, who cracked the tests in her second attempt. Expressing gratitude to the instructors, she said they had spent more time with the students during the exams, despite having personal commitments.

D Dhanabalan, VAO, Gomangalam; K Karthik, VAO, Gomangalam Pudur; M Greenkumar, VAO, Nattukkalpalayam;
D Dhanabalan, VAO, Gomangalam; K Karthik, VAO, Gomangalam Pudur; M Greenkumar, VAO, Nattukkalpalayam;

In mid-2019, the Coimbatore District Employment and Career Guidance Centre commenced free TNPSC coaching in Pollachi. During the initial period, several revenue employees — deputy tahsildars, revenue inspectors and VAOs — served as instructors. Ten officers continued the classes at VAO’s association building near Pollachi Town police station. With some of them promoted or transferred, the responsibility to carry forward the selfless pursuit fell on the shoulders of five VAOs.

The team focuses on examinations for the postings in High Court, Executive officers in Group I and II, interview and non-interview postings in Group II, along with the Group I and IV exams.

One of the instructors, Pollachi Town VAO S Ravikumar (33), a native of Erode, says they have been conducting two-hour morning and evening sessions, with weekly tests on Sundays. “We even held online classes during the pandemic,” he says. Our superiors encouraged us, he adds, and we hope like-minded officers join hands with us.

Besides Ravikumar, the team comprises D Dhanabalan, VAO of Gomangalam; K Karthik, VAO of Gomangalam Pudur; M Greenkumar, VAO of Nattukkalpalayam; and S Bhuvaneshwari, VAO of Anaimalai.

Unlike other districts, there are no free coaching classes for competitive exams in Pollachi. The students are eager but unaware of how to prepare,” says Bhuvaneshwari.

Lack of awareness and guidance has made cracking the exams challenging for several students. Thus, in 2019, the newly-joined team of VAOs started the free classes, under the guidance of the then RDO. Bhuvaneshwari says though there is an increase in the number of students attempting the examinations now, we are working to improve it further.

Ravikumar expressed concern that many students attend their classes only after exam notifications are released. “If they start preparing six months in advance, the performance will be better. We have prepared a schedule with three months of study and three months of taking up model tests,” he says. The team is, presently, spreading awareness among the aspirants on the same.

(Edited by Thamizhamudhan Sekar)

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