Dr. Roman Saini’s story is a story of success, but with a difference. It isn’t because he is an IAS officer. He has given up the most coveted administrative job in India and devoted his life to helping those underprivileged children who can ill-afford the cost of training for competitive examinations. He went online and launched “Unacademy” that provides education for students in different fields, especially for those appearing for the IAS examination.
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His stellar educational performance is more than his IAS success. He was already an officer at 22. But by then he had cleared his pre-medical exams at 16 and was a doctor at AIIMS, a premier medical institute in India. It was during a visit to a village in 2011 that opened his eyes to the abject poverty in the small towns and villages of India. He realized that they needed help and he could do that by reaching out directly to them.
His Unacademy website, run with the help of Gaurav Munjal, his friend, is doing an exemplary job and has gained immense acceptance. It has been much acclaimed on social networks such as YouTube, Facebook, Quora, and Instagram. As his reputation and following grew, he quit his job and devoted his time completely to becoming an educator and a mentor.
His website has around 400 videos which at present has more than a million YouTube subscribers. It is an overwhelming number by any standards, especially for an education channel. It provides a sturdy starting post for students who cannot bear the expenses of training for competitive examinations. He provides comprehensive study materials and online coaching free of cost on his website.
His site covers nearly all the main subjects studied by students appearing for the examination that includes History, Geography, Politics, Physics, Arts, Environment, Biodiversity, and Ecology.
One of the main constraints for students appearing for such examination is financial support. The Indian government guarantees free education till the schooling level, while the expenses are marginal for college students. But after that students are on their own. Most students are forced to work to supplement their family income even when they are in school.
What Roman could see with his fresh perspective, supported by his administrative and medical training, was that students from the poorer sections were caught in a vicious cycle. Even though talented, many students have to forego dreams of getting better jobs, especially the top government jobs as their poor financial conditions ensured that they could not compete with the best. They were forced to take up menial jobs to survive.
The site is steadily expanding and has received financial support from large investors. Recently they raised $50 million from multiple investors. They have already raised a total of $88.6 million till date. Other top educators are using Unacademy as their primary source of study material for students. The success of its model has attracted students from the remote towns and villages of India, though they have to live with poor internet service in the remote regions of the country. Their course is comprehensive and guides a student from the start to the finish. At present, there are 13 million registered learners and 10,000 registered educators who conduct over 600 live classes every day.
Image Credit: India Today