Faisal Hussain, 28, a resident of Chitrakoot Karnah in district Kupwara, qualified the Kashmir Administrative Service (KAS)-2018 exams securing 57th rank. The result of the exam was declared last week. Hussain served in the education department as SSA (Grade II) teacher from 2010-2020. In a detailed interaction he shares his thoughts with GK special correspondent Syed Rizwan Geelani. Here are the excerpts:
You were working as a teacher. How do you explain the shift towards civil service exams?
Actually joining the teaching profession was a necessity or you can say a compulsion for me; my financial conditions at home. My father is a class 4th employee in PDC and I have seven siblings (two brothers and five sisters). So I wanted to support my family, and the studies of my siblings as well. I served in the education department as SSA (now Grade II) teacher from 2010-2020.
You did your schooling in Karnah and later qualified the KAS exam in 3rd attempt, Will you share something about your journey from being a teacher to a civil servant?
See, I did my schooling, up to class 5th, in a local private school – New Light Model Public School, Karnah. After that I completed my middle and secondary education from Government Boys High School Chamkoot. I did my 10+2 from Boys Higher Secondary School Kandi Karnah in 2009. I was a topper in my school and in the whole Karnah area, in class 10th and 12th.
Soon after completing your 10+2 level, you were appointed as SSA teacher. How did you complete your graduation and post-graduation?
After completing my education up to 10+2 level in Karnah, I decided to move out of my village, and enrolled myself in GDC Bemina to pursue my graduation. But I had to return to my village in the first year as I was appointed as SSA teacher in my village. As I said, I joined the education department as an SSA teacher because our financial conditions were not good. But I continued my studies as a private candidate and completed my graduation in 2013. Later I did my post-graduation in history from Kashmir University as a private candidate.
While struggling to support your family and studies of your siblings, how did you manage to prepare for KAS exams?
When I was declared a topper in my area in class 10th and 12th, it boosted my morale that I thought I could achieve something in my life. So after joining the department, I shared with my family my passion to crack the civil service exam. My family and my maternal uncle (Farooq Ahmad) supported me for it. So after completing my graduation I made my first attempt in 2013 KAS exams but was dropped in preliminary exams. I made my second attempt in 2016 and was dropped on Mains exams. Finally, I cracked it in my 3rd attempt in 2018 securing 57th rank.
You made two consecutive unsuccessful attempts for KAS exams. What was your motivation for making another attempt?
I made my first attempt without any coaching, or having a proper strategy to qualify the exam. But during my first attempt I met several KAS officers of my district who started guiding me and encouraged me to continue with my passion for it. In my first attempt, that I made in 2013, one ReT teacher of Kupwara district qualified the KAS exam, but I did not. This made me more passionate about it and I made my mind that when he can do it why not me. So, during winter vacation in 2015, I did a two and a half month coaching at The Civil Institute. Later in March, I resumed my duty in school. I continued my preparation for the civil service exams during morning and evening hours. I took some guidance from several KAS officers and my interaction with them proved fruitful. I also stayed at ICP for a mock interview, after qualifying Mains, under the guidance of A. G Mir (IPS) and Shahnawaz Bukhari (KAS). With this, I made a successful attempt in 2018 and cracked the exam.
You said your financial conditions were not good at home and while serving as SSA teacher in the education department your salaries were often withheld for one or the other reasons. How did you manage it all, like your family, siblings and your own goal to crack KAS exam?
Definitely I faced a tough time while serving as SSA teacher as our salary was not released every month. But my maternal uncle (Farooq Ahmad), who is a teacher by profession, helped me in every respect. He has been my teacher and mentor from childhood. He would always extend his support to help my siblings to continue their studies and would also help me in purchasing books and other study material for my preparation. He always helped me and my siblings financially and was indeed a moral support for me; and I did not give up my passion at any stage but strived hard to achieve my goal.
In 2018 you made a successful attempt to crack the KAS exam. But the year also coincided with one month long hunger strike of SSA teachers, in the same year, over the delay in release of salaries. How did you manage everything?
Indeed that was the tough time for me, but I had to manage it somehow. I had managed to keep some savings to meet the family needs and also support my preparation.
If we talk of SSA teachers, an impression has been created by the education department that the they are recruited without filtration, and they lack on many grounds. How do you see it?
I would like to say that be it the society or the government, they should encourage teachers because they are the cream of the society. Teachers build the nation. But harassing a particular community of teachers is not good, and it kills their morale. Capacity building training programs are good at any stage but it should be done by having the same yardsticks for the whole teaching community. A particular group should not be harassed or humiliated time and again. Some SSA teachers are at the verge of retirement so why evaluate them at this stage. Rest, I cannot say much about it.
Given your experience from your schooling, and your approach towards cracking the KAS exam, what message would you give to aspiring civil service aspirants?
I must say that it is not only those from elite and top notch private schools, who can crack the civil service exams. It doesn’t make any difference at all. I did my schooling up to 12th in government schools, and did my graduation and PG as a private student, but I also cracked the KAS exams. It is only your dedication, hard work and smart work which plays a key role in achieving your goal. Time management also remains a key factor for it, and that needs to be taken care of. Anyone who has patience, preservation and dedication can crack the civil service exams.