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August 4, 1999
Subia Hashmat, an 11-year-old girl here has become the youngest person ever to attempt and clear the Microsoft Certified Professional examination.
Subia, who does not even have a computer at home, wrested the title from friend and neighbour Supriya Singh who at 12, is just one year elder.
The MCP computer based examination is conducted worldwide by the Microsoft Corporation and certifies successful students to troubleshoot and tweak its software products.
Subia attends class VI at Allahabad's Girls' High School. Supriya attends the St Mary's Convent.
The neighbourhood friends recently attempted the MCP examination together. Supriya cleared it in one go but Subia did not. Within a week, Subia tried again and struck gold. She not only cleared the examination but also broke Supriya's record by virtue of being younger.
Both girls trained with Shailesh Jaiswal of the National Institute of Professional Studies, a local computer training institute.
"But for Shailesh Sir, we would not even got admission to the institute," Subia told Rediff. Her cousin Tauseef is an old friend of Shailesh.
Shailesh concedes "I was naturally sceptical even when Tauseef approached me because I just could not imagine kids, who had yet to step into their teens, doing what even grownups find difficult to attempt."
After some persuasion, however, Shailesh allowed the girls to appear for a "performance test" that would decide whether the institute could admit them.
Shailesh now admits that he has yet to come across anyone who could pick up the finer points of a Microsoft system as quickly as the two girls have.
Shailesh remains floored. He told Rediff "It was understandable for Supriya to be making rapid progress because she had a computer back home but whatever Subia had known about computers was confined to the bare basics taught at school."
Strangely, Subia's Girls' High School has chosen to not tom-tom their student's international record. Supriya has been luckier. St Mary's Convent has gone to town with her achievement.
Subia told Rediff "I can tell you how thrilled I was when I finally made it as a Microsoft Certified Professional... Bill Gates is my role model and I wish I could do the ultimate with computers and work for the Microsoft Corporation one day."
There's another excitement coming Subia's way. Her father has relented and agreed to buy her a PC. "I do realise that a computer at home could help her maintain her skills which may not be possible in school," he says.
A PC at home also means that Subia's younger brother can have a shot at bettering his sister. Nine-year-old Noman has already declared: "Let the PC come and I will beat her record."
Supriya's surgeon father Dr Santosh Kumar Singh has rewarded her with an Internet connection. Supriya says, "That was the best gift from my father. Papa always encouraged me to learn more and more about computers while my class teacher Mrs D Chopra gave me all the opportunity in school to acquire the basic knowledge in computers. It was the greatest day for me when my principal Sister Christina made a special announcement about my achievement at the school assembly."
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