How this school leader started Nalli Matriculation to improve education quality in Madurai

How this school leader started Nalli Matriculation to improve education quality in Madurai

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Ramar S Nalli Matriculation

Ramar S, Nalli Matriculation School, Madurai, Tamil Nadu

How it all started

Ramar S comes from an agricultural background and had to walk a lot every day to reach his school. He knows how hard it was to get an education in his area in rural Madurai, an energetic, ancient city on the Vaigai River in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

Since then, Ramar’s passion to provide quality education to the children of his community was born, fueled by his own struggles and serving as a constant reminder of the importance of education.

Ramar S Nalli Matriculation
Ramar S Nalli Matriculation School

“Education changed my life. It gave me knowledge, skills, confidence, and opportunities. It made me who I am today,” the visionary school leader says, adding that he always wanted to share this gift with other children who are underprivileged.

So Ramar decided to start a school with his two friends in 1990. They named it Anand English Medium School. He hoped that it would be a place of joy and learning for the children.

But soon, Ramar realized that his friends had different motives. They were more interested in making money than providing quality education. They did not care about students’ needs and interests, and ran the school like a business.

Ramar was disappointed. The school’s enrollment fell before his eyes, and more and more parents quit the school over the years as they lost faith in its quality. The students were unhappy and unmotivated, and teachers were demoralized.

“I could not bear to see my dream being shattered like that. I could not compromise on my values and vision,” says Ramar, heartbroken. He then decided to part ways with his friends and exit the partnership in 1995. Now, he had to find funds to start a new school from scratch but it was easier said than done. Ramar was able to find a suitable location and building for the school, but he was torn apart when found out that his village lacked qualified teachers and staff for the school.

He worked hard and smart for two years until he finally opened his new school, Nalli Matriculation School, in 1997. He set up three primary goals for his school: first, to provide students with an innovative and challenging academic program that would stimulate their curiosity and creativity; second, to teach them how to be contributing members of their community by instilling values of respect, responsibility, honesty, kindness, and more; and third, to help them develop their individual potential by nurturing their talents, skills and passions.

Also Read: How Zeal School is improving English proficiency in rural students

In the early stages

Ramar started his school with humble beginnings and grew it through hard work and dedication. He says, “When I started my school in 1997, it only had six grades and 293 students. My aim was to provide them with quality education from primary to secondary level.” He applied for the 10th grade certification from the government and received it in 2002. “It was a big milestone for me and my school because it meant that I could offer complete education to my students until they completed their schooling.”

He continued to improve the quality and reputation of his school, attracting more students and parents with his innovative curriculum, dedicated teachers, and excellent results. Over the years, the school’s enrollment increased from 293 to 585 students, and it now accepts students from Pre-Kg to 10th grade from diverse backgrounds and communities.

“When I started, there were only two private schools in my city, but now there are eight schools within a 3-5 km radius. These schools offer different facilities and features to entice students and parents,” Ramar tells us about facing more competition from other schools in his area these days.

But he did not let this discourage him. “I see competition as a challenge and an opportunity.”

Sustaining the school’s strength

“While there are eight schools in the city, most experienced a student dropout rate of around 30 to 40% during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, our school had no dropouts. I waived the fees for two consecutive years and did not collect outstanding fees, which allowed our students to remain enrolled in our school rather than moving to public schools,” Ramar comments about sustaining students in his school.

The school leader received the “Best Teacher Award” from the government of Tamil Nadu in the year 2021 and was elected as “Nodal Officer.” for the Chinnamanur block.

“We did not distribute digital content to students during the initial phase. Instead, we identified students and teachers within the local demographic and grouped them into small tuition classes of 25 students, reducing learning loss by 50%. On school reopening, our primary focus for the first three months was to teach the basics, allowing 80% of students to reach their expected grade level,” he claims.

Varthana’s support, at the right time 

From 2000 to 2007, Ramar renovated the existing school building and constructed new classrooms to accommodate the increasing number of students. He had to borrow money from local lenders but soon realized that repaying the debts was very challenging.

In 2015, one of his friends told him about Varthana. They approved his loan request for infrastructure development and also provided feedback on how to improve the school’s management and operations. “They were very supportive and friendly,” shares the school leader.

“Varthana gave me another loan to set up a computer lab in my school. We saw a positive impact on the school’s quality and reputation because of Varthana’s support. Their assistance was also a significant reason for sustaining the number of students each year,” he says confidently.

“Parents are the backbone of our school, and their word-of-mouth referrals are our primary source of new admissions. We do not run any local or digital campaigns to attract new enrollments. Our teachers have over 15 years of experience and are trained in new teaching methodologies every quarter. We are proud to achieve a 100% pass rate for our 10th-grade students. Additionally, we offer a 30% tuition fee waiver every year to support low-income groups. These are the strengths of our school,” concludes the school leader.

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Sivanthi Public School / August 17, 2023

Great post to read. Thanks to share with us.

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