“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
C Sankaran Kutty, of Mahindra Research Valley (MRV), Chennai, lives by this quote. He uses his passion – education, to bring about a change in the lives of the less privileged.
He resides in Chennai city and commutes 76 kms daily to work at MRV, which is located at Mahindra World City (MWC). His weekends are entirely devoted to volunteering at MWC – which is a long commute for him, but he insists that it’s equally important to have the same volunteers show up each weekend.
In December 2014, Kutty joined the ESOPs program – Mahindra Group’s initiative to enable and help employees in volunteering for social and environmental causes. Ever since, he and his team leverage their skills and knowledge to teach children. He has been pivotal in the success of two programs –
The subjects were decided on as per the need of the students. Those in 7th and 8th standard, requested help with computers, so that was introduced. Similarly, since the students aspired to take up careers in engineering, medicine, etc., science and math were introduced for 9th and 10th standard students.
“We’re improvising teaching methodology and introducing subjects as and when we see a need because by staying relevant, we’re ensuring proper support to the children.”
To attract children to study on weekends, the students are given free snacks and lunch. During class, the children are provided with books and stationery. During the year graduation ceremony, bags, dictionaries, and bottles are distributed for following year. They’re given stars in their certificate, to help parents understand and follow their children’s progress.
“These are children of housekeeping staff, gardeners – people who don’t have the privileges we have – unless there’s an intervention. With quality education, we can help transform their lives.”
His biggest motivation comes from the fact that he can bring about change in the society through education. He adds that the happiness of the beneficiaries further adds to his motivation to keep going.
On seeing students’ intent, Kutty and his team also facilitated their admission into private schools, while assuring financial aid for those who could not afford the fees.
“If they graduate in a relevant field, ideally we would love to employ them in MRV itself. After all, we want to help them build a brighter future for themselves and their families.”
It wasn’t an easy journey, but with consistent hard work and dedication, Kutty and his team have helped 1200 students improve their English skills. A World in Motion started in 2015 with just 5 participating schools, which went up last year to 44 schools. The program based on STEM has impacted 12,000 students from Chennai and Kanjivaram, so far. The students also participated at a national event in Chennai, in 2019. A few students from the villages leveraged their computer skills during the lockdown, to purchase items online, and sell them to fellow villagers for less. This helped them earn a living and their community saved money too.
For Kutty, the experience has been both rewarding and emotional – especially when bidding goodbye to the graduating students.
Being an ESOPs Champion (having made an impact through Mahindra’s Employee Social Options initiative) at MRV, Kutty invites more employees to volunteer. He points out that a lot of talented people don’t get opportunities or monetary support, especially in villages – it’s not fair that they’re lagging behind. He insists that we actively look for talented people from the least privileged communities and support them in whatever manner possible.