‘Unschooled’ Mumbai teenager Malvika Makes it to MIT On Basis of Her Olympiad Medals

Mumbai teenager Malvika Joshi doesn’t have a class X or class XII certificate, but she has made to the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), thanks to her computer programming talent.

MIT Campus

She was home schooled after the VII standard – that is to say that she wasn’t schooled like other students her age, and she did not give the 10th and 12th Standard board exams either.

The Mumbai teenager has been offered a scholarship by MIT as she is pursuing an education in Bachelor of Science degree after getting a seat for being a three-time medal winner at International Olympiad of Informatics. MIT has made a provision for medal winners in the Olympiad (Math, Physics or Computer) to get accepted into this institute, and it was Malvika’s medal that ensured that she can fulfill her aspirations of pursuing research work in her favorite subject – Computer Science.

When she was unschooled, 4 years back, she explored many subjects and found programming interesting. She was unable to get admission into IITs among other elite institutes because of its requirement to pass class XII exams. The only institute which she got admission was the Chennai Mathematical Institute (CMI) where she was enrolled M.Sc. level course as her knowledge was on par with B.Sc. standard.

“My husband Raj wasn’t convinced initially as it was a risky proposition. The kids won’t have a 10th or 12th standard certificate and there was bound to be fear. I quit my NGO job and designed an academic curriculum for Malvika. I created a simulation (classroom like situation) at home. The confidence I had as a mother was that I am capable of imparting knowledge in my daughter’s.” but 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.”

She also went on to represent India three times in the Programming Olympiad. Madhavan who prepared Malvika for all three Olympiads, elicited on her brilliance. “During the past three years she spent extensive periods at CMI acquiring the background in mathematics and algorithms that she needed to excel at Informatics Olympiad. As part of this training for IOI, she had to fill in unexpected gaps in her education arising from the fact that she had not been formally enrolled in school.”