It is not an easy task to take forward a legacy. A young and successful edupreneur, Ms Kadhambari S.Viswanathan, Assistant Vice President of VIT Group of Institutions, is fulfilling that role admirably. Education sector is at crossroads in India. Kadhambari understands the challenges and intricacies of the education sector in India going beyond South India, and she has been privileged to be born into a family of educationists giving her an early advantage. In a short span of time, she has successfully collaborated technology with traditional medium of education and is truly underway scripting a new page in Indian educational history.
MS KADHAMBARI S. VISWANATHAN
Assistant Vice President,
VIT Group of Institutions
In a freewheeling chat with Outlook, she opens up her vision and mission for the VIT Bhopal.
Tell us about your early education. School and College life and also your stints abroad for education.
I was born and brought up in Vellore. I did my bachelors from VIT. It laid the foundation for my career and molded me as a leader. As a result, I am a student-centric. I did my masters from Johns Hopkins Public Health School and did internships at various universities, with senior-level management. These stays exposed me to cutting edge academic and R&D knowledge in the Bioengineering and Technology field.
As the AVP of VIT University describes your journey as an Edupreneur.
In 2013, I started as an AVP trainee and took charge of the Chennai campus in 2014. Before that, I had been working on Bhopal campus since the MoU was signed with the government in 2012. My journey as an Edupreneur started in Bhopal, where I had an independent role. Being an educational institution, it is not like other organizations. One needs to have a very socialistic approach. Definitely, it is not for profit and there is no space for concepts like cost-cutting and, high efficiency. We are a very diverse institution, including the Bhopal campus. We need to have diversity on campus but at the same time put the uniqueness of Bhopal. All this brought to me the ability to visualize the campus’s growth in a place like
Bhopal, which will grow as one of the top institutions of the country.
From down south to central India, why and how has it been?
I wanted to enhance the reach of quality education to larger and comparatively weaker sections of northern India and being located in central India, Bhopal could be the best place, being overnight journey away from almost every corner of northern states. If you look at the gross enrollment ratio or any educational stats of Madhya Pradesh, it is always below the national average. Despite that, we took the risk and invested and it has paid off well. In 2017, we started the campus and now have our graduating batch. VIT Bhopal campus currently holds 7500 students in a short period that stands as a testimony to the quality of education that we offer. Further, our flagship program “Support the Advancement of Rural Students (STARS)”, offers free
education (graduation / post-graduation) inclusive of boarding and lodging to one girl and boy student, top rank holder in 10 + 2 state board exam, from a government school in each district of Madhya Pradesh is a unique program, which was first started in Tamil Nadu. This year (2022) we are planning to have a scheme for underrepresented women, where access to education is low. So we would target girl students from such backgrounds and provide them fellowship and scholarships and motivate the community to push the girl students to go out and study.
Please share your thought process behind introducing CALTech in Madhya Pradesh
Academically, the USP of VIT Bhopal is, that it is a 100 per cent doctor faculty institution. We were the first one and only private institution to be so and have faculties from 13 states. The launch of CALTech in which we have very few normal classrooms, the rest all were designed as studios, which is a collaborative set up. So, teaching and the practicals happen simultaneously. Due to the pandemic, we have virtualized our labs. So, when the students come into class there is an entry quiz and at the end there is an exit quiz. Our faculties are trained to teach with innovative “teaching-learning” methods of CALTech.
You launched vityarthi.com during the Covid phase, tell us about it
We wanted to have an EdTech company that has the ethics of a legacy institution. The EdTech platform should be a lifelong learning destination. Students can come to learn a subject and take a certificate. In addition to Science and Engineering, we have a Vedic Maths course, Python, Ethical Hacking and we want to put it in multiple regional languages at affordable prices.
It offers personalized remote learning opportunities with a plethora of demonstration and assessment tools that appreciate the individuality of the learner.