Monday, January 5, 2009

I was not lucky; But these students are!

05 January, 2009
I will start writing today by saying “I was not lucky”. Yes! There is a reason why I say this and you will understand the meaning of it once you read the following.

As they say foundation / basics are important for anyone in life. I also feel that if we are lucky to get good basic education and a good schooling, success is very likely in our lives. Few of you may not agree but that is the reality. As I write this, I still remember my school days in a small town called Bangarpet. I was lucky enough to go to a private ‘English’ School and my parents could afford sending me there and taking care of all my expenses. Santosh English School was one of the best private schools of Bangarpet and I was fortunate to get my schooling from 3rd standard to 10th standard there. I did my pre-primary schooling in a Kannada medium school. The level of education and the kind of teachers I had was moderately good and I was not sure about the standards in Bangalore and other good cities. Whatever I got, that was the best for me at that time. There were few of my friends who were going to Kannada medium schools or government schools. They used to see me very differently just because I was going to a good school. But now I realize that whatever I used to think or whatever basic education I got was not better than any government school. The reason I say that is now I am in Bangalore and I am seeing the standards of education. The standards and the competition are much higher when compared to the schools in rural areas like Bangarpet. Even though I went for an English medium school, all my teachers were teaching the subjects in Kannada. Only the school name on the certificate was in English. Even the standards; I still remember my teachers reading books in the classes without explaining what it is and what can students explore out of those lessons. I still remember my English teacher talking to students in Kannada. Few of the complicated lessons were actually taught in Kannada.

There were few good teachers who have taught me good lessons which I am still able to relate to my life. I cannot forget them for their dedication and support. My point here is not the teachers; it’s the standard of education in the rural areas. If teachers get good exposure to things, they will certainly help students to get good standard education given their dedication and commitment to the teaching profession. Can you believe if I say I was not speaking in English till I came to Bangalore in 2003? Yes. I was not able to speak in English fluently because of the environment I was getting exposed to. Not only me, whole of Bangarpet was the same. You may even find lot of errors in my writing too. Students who come to Bangalore from rural areas just cannot compete with the students of Bangalore who got good quality education. There may be few exceptions but that’s the reality and I have seen many such students. There may be poor standards in Bangalore also but most of the students get good amount of exposure basic education.

Why is it that those students who come from rural areas are less fortunate in terms of foundation courses which are very much necessary for ones survival in this competitive world? I do not have any answer. Even now if I think of my school, PU College and my graduation college, I feel awful about it.

Now I am going to share my experience of my visit to one of the technical training institute recently. The reason for my sharing is to let you know how fortunate the students of this institute are!

Our team (NGO) is now working on setting up a vocational training centre near Chickballapur area to serve the poorest of the poor and make them employable for self reliance. In this context, we got to meet one of the government official who was very much interested in our proposal and he wanted us to visit few of the institutes who are already doing whatever we are planning to do. One of such institute he proposed was “Toyota Technical Training Institute (TTTI)”. As soon as I heard about TTTI, I was sure in my mind that this will be one of the world class institute given the Toyota standards and their name in the industry. We got the contact details of the institute’s principal and we were asked to call him before we go there.

The appointment was fixed for Saturday (3-Jan-09) and the principal of TTTI offered to pick us from Kengeri bus terminal to take us to their institute. So we had to reach the Kengeri terminal at 8 am in the morning. Narasim, Harish and I left our Hebbal office at 7 and took the ring road bus from Hebbal to Kengeri. Since principal of the institute, Mr. Somanath was from Toyota, as expected, he was at the station waiting for us at sharp 8 am. We reached there at 8 and got into his brand new Toyota Innova car to go to their institute which is located near their manufacturing plant at Bidadi. As soon as we got in, he asked about our NGO and activities. We gave a very brief introduction about ourselves and our activities. We also explained him on the reason for our visit. He had already prepared for the meeting and he said once we reach institute, he would give a detailed presentation about the institute. The objective of our visit was just to learn about TTTI and its operations so that we can adopt some of the good practices directly into our proposal.

We reached the Toyota main gate at 8.30 am. As we entered, I felt like we are totally in a new place. The pavement in the campus was very good and the landscaped open space was very attractive. I remembered me going to my school and college. The only difference was the campus and the cleanliness. They have to follow the Japanese culture and they simply follow it. The drive till the institute residence was very good and we got down near the Dormitories building. Somanath was wise enough to think about our breakfast and he took us directly to the canteen. They served us very good Puliogre and coffee. While we were eating, we were amused by the system they follow. TQM was very much visible in the dining area. They have processes for everything and anything. The hall was very clean and that was because of the system they follow. Every person will clean his own plates and glasses and segregate them after washing. The waste has to be segregated as per their requirements. We were also quite surprised by the cleanliness of the toilets. They have process charts and responsibility charts for each activity they do. We did not know that there were no cleaners at the hostel. Everything was managed by students and it was their responsibility.

Somanath wanted us to go to the main training building at 8.45 so that we can be a part of the morning assembly. Before I narrate about the assembly, let me talk about the students. The students selected for this institute are poor families of rural areas. The objective is to give education to those students who have passed X standard with 60% and who cannot afford to go to the higher studies. TTTI will pick up 64 students from such background every year and give them 3 years of technical training free of cost. Not only free education, students are very fortunate that they even get stipend and fellow ships based on their merits. You can imagine how a student from such background will be when he joins this institute.

Well, I was surprised soon as I entered the assembly hall. There were 128 students (64 each year) standing in lines with the commands given by their captain. Just like NCC, disciplined assembly lines. The objective of this morning assembly was to bring in confidence in students with respect to their communication and behavioral aspects. They had a pre-defined process which they need to follow every morning. Since all the students were from rural background, the main focus was to improve their English vocabulary. So they were made to talk for 15 minutes in the assembly every morning. Not only in the morning, all the other activities were in English medium. But in the assembly, every student has to come up with a technical word for the day and he has to present in front of all his classmates. After which they will read the respective day’s news paper and they will fix up a word for the day so that they can come up with as many sentences as they can using that word. If there are any birthdays for that day, they would clap their hands together and wish that student by singing “Happy Birthday to you”.

All the students were given very good uniform, badges and shoes. They all look very neat. Infact there is a process for every student before he comes to the assembly, he should ensure that he has gone through the checklist of uniform in front of the mirror. If any student missed to follow any of the listed point, strict action was taken. After the assembly, students went into their respective classroom in line. They were taught on how to cross the ways at the corners in Japanese way “Left ok, Right ok, here I go” (typically important for those who work in manufacturing divisions). We were just pleasantly surprised looking into all these basic actions and they way they are being taught. I was just mesmerized by their action; I infact tried doing that while crossing the way. (Please do not laugh)

After the assembly, Somanath took us to the conference room and gave us a detailed presentation on the TTTI and its operations. We were quite shocked that they have made huge investment to train just 64 of such students every year. We learned the Japanese way of management quite a lot and they way they spend money on extracurricular and safety activities. Somanath took us to all the workshops which were not looking like workshops at all. I mean it was so well maintained and it was just clean everywhere. Their labs are one of the best. Even engineering colleges will not have such labs for sure. Since they are Toyota’s group, they had the luxury of using corolla cars in their assembly workshop. There were 32 computers for 32 students in the computer lab. All the classrooms had the LCD projector and with the laptop connectivity. Students get to access and expose themselves to the highest quality standards at TTTI.

All the faculties were dedicated. Most of the faculties for technical skills were from the manufacturing plant on rotational basis. There were few permanent faculties for other streams such as English, Physical education, yoga, etc. They even have guest faculties for few of the general subjects. These faculties were highly paid and they are one of the best trainers.

After the training centre visit, we went to the residential quarters. We saw the student rooms, sports hall, TV Room, Yoga area, Sports stadium, kitchen, they way they have maintained; they have process charts and display boards for all their activities. One such example I can give is the student movement board. It was a big display board with student badges. With this board, one can come to know where the student will be at any point of time; if the student is in workshop or plant or theory or dormitory or on leave, one will get to know easily after looking at that board. Every student will start his day at 6 am and end at 11 pm. 9-4 will be their training institute hours; rest they spend on sports, yoga, and studies. For every process, they have improvement charts. They really mean TQM and they follow Kaizen (continuous improvement).

Now you know why I said “I was not lucky” in the beginning. I could never get to go to such institutes in my life. But I am happy for these students who are from a very poor background and who are in need of good education for their life settlement. TTTI is a lucky break for these students. 3 years which they spend in this institute will be the best times in their lives. With all such systems and exposure to the real time technologies, I am sure by the time they come out of the 3rd year; they will be absorbed by any industry. This is one of the best institutes which I have ever seen. The amount Toyota is spending for this kind of Corporate Social Responsibility activity is worth. The outcome will be the most qualitative outcome for them which creates future leaders and perhaps best original innovators in the industry.

We finally came out of the institute at 2 pm and because of Somanath’s generosity, we even got the drop in the same Toyota back to the highway from which we took the bus back to Bangalore. The whole visit was mesmerizing and worth learning experience. I am sure we will try to focus on quality in our new initiative like they way they are doing at TTTI. I am still not able to believe that the 64 students at TTTI got their lucky break unlike most of us. They really deserve it!


sajana said...

Yeah..i totally agree with you Srikanth..with good basic education and a good schooling, success is very likely in our lives.. i guess not only me..but most of them will agree to what you have said.
Only during the later stages of our lives we relaise the fact ,but by then we would have missed the good chances and oppurtunities in life.
Its nice to know that Toyota is taken such a good initiative and hope they continiue to help the rural mass.
I would like to see your team go on the similar lines of Toyota and reach the rural masses with your good thoughts and ideas.
All The Best to your team!


Raghu said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Raghu said...

Yes Sri. You are absolutely right in saying that our education in the country side is not at par with the education available in urban localities. That's where the focus is slowly shifting these days. It is certainly a good initiative by Toyota to reach out to the rural mass and impart them the world class training.

Let your team tread the path of Toyota and achieve greater success in coming days.

I wish you and your team the very Best of Luck in your new initiative.


Sudhi said...

I think we don't have such an institute anywhere in India. It is because of our attitude towards education. We think education is just to get a secured job and that has made our education as just an another business.

We are really in need of institutes like TTTI all over India to impart quality education to each and everyone.

I appreciate your efforts towards such a good cause.

Wish you all the best!


Amaresh said...

These students are indeed lucky...

Just imagine if every company in India adopts just 100 children every year and gives them education or some vocational training...there are over 6000 listed companies in India with the resources to do this..

Srikant..all the best...hope you achieve what you have set out for...let more children be added to this "lucky kids" list..