As I have mentioned elsewhere in my blog, it was the Rane Group that first made bold to ask me to write their corporate biography. That was in 2007 and since then I have done many. That first project will always remain special. In the past couple of months I was able to get a close insight into two of their fresh initiatives. These are the Rane Polytechnic and the Rane Vidyalaya, run in Trichy district. I wrote a piece on them which was published in The Hindu today. I am appending the same below-
The countryside around Trichy is known for the river Cauvery, green fields, bare rocks, and lots of sunshine. In the midst of this just imagine centres of learning that in design and curriculum are of the highest standard. Welcome to the Rane Polytechnic, Sethurapatti Village, and the Rane Vidyalaya, a CBSE school in Manachanallur Village, both in Trichy District. Both are ergonomically laid out campuses, with rooms that are filled with natural light and a powerful breeze that keeps the ceiling fans moving. And the teaching is truly international in its delivery. Since 2020 for instance, when the pandemic struck, both institutions have moved to online teaching with Google Classrooms as the platform, supplemented by augmented reality sessions on respective dedicated YouTube channels. One of the teachers recently bagged the Excellence Award in the “Share Your Best” Lesson Plan competition conducted at the national level by IISER, Pune.
Rane’s involvement with education began early, in the 1930s, when founder Ganapathy Iyer interested himself in a Girls’ School in Gopalapuram, Madras. In time, his residence in the locality would be donated to the school and the institution would take his name as well. Ganapathy Iyer’s son in law, LL Narayanan, who spearheaded the Group’s manufacturing focus, carried forward the tradition, establishing a chair in the founder’s name at the Madras Institute of Technology and later helping the Meenakshi College in a big way too. By 1967, the Ganapathy Iyer Trust had been set up with its mission being ‘Working persistently in alleviating the harsh challenges of lack of education, poverty, disease and suffering and apathy towards environment.” In keeping with that credo, it became part of the Rane tradition to support Government-run schools near all its plants. The DAV Schools have also been beneficiaries.
The Trust was renamed as Rane Foundation in the year 2008. It was sometime that year that the Group decided that its interest in supporting education ought to go beyond signing cheques in the favour of schools and colleges. It studied requirements and identified diploma courses in rural areas as a crucial need. Rane had several industrial installations in and around the Trichy area and it was a natural choice for its polytechnic. Established in 2011, it was funded entirely by the Group. In the vast campus spanning seven acres are seen happy students as they try their hand for instance at robotics, a BMW engine and a Hyundai car transmission. Over 1,200 students have graduated from the institution in the past ten years and over 70 per cent of them have found placement in several top-ranking organisations of India, the remaining absorbed by the Rane companies.
The institution has focused on inculcating key competencies. These comprise skill, knowledge and attitude. While the first two are taken care of by the excellent teaching standards and the facilities available for hands-on training, the last is perhaps the biggest benefit that is passed on. In a classic instance of industry participation in education, Rane executives conduct classes in courses such as time management, value education and professionalism. Courses in communication, behaviour and entrepreneurship are also conducted. All of these ensure that those graduating emerge as worthy citizens who can add value to society and their respective organisations from day one. This eliminates a considerable investment in retraining candidates post recruitment.
Out of the 480 odd polytechnics in Tamil Nadu, the Rane Polytechnic is one of just four to have obtained accreditation from the NBA. An impact assessment conducted in 2018 revealed that it had raised standards of living all around the place. From a time when the Foundation had to canvass admissions the place is in demand. Testimonials from alumni, now holding key positions at various organisations attest to the way the institution is run.
In response to an identified need for a high-quality school in the Trichy neighbourhood, the Rane Foundation, in 2018, set up the Rane Vidyalaya. The school’s board affiliation and course curriculum were designed to fulfil the desires of the parents of children in the area. It caters to villages within a ten-kilometre radius and strives to uplift the entire region by providing school education. As was the case with the polytechnic, the deepest of thought went into the campus design. The focus is on a happy and healthy educational environment with full care for student safety.
Both institutions have dedicated faculty who are recruited, evaluated, and cared for as they would be in the best of business organisations. It is education of the highest quality for the students at the lowest of cost for their families. It is truly an instance of the digital age being ushered into a rural setting.