As a prelude to International Women’s Day 2022, observed on March 8, EducationWorld is publishing a series of interviews with inspiring women in the field of education and parenting.
One such is Dr Manimekalai Mohan, founder & managing trustee of the SSVM Group of six top-ranked schools in Coimbatore (Tamil Nadu). A visionary educationist, she is a recipient of the Economic Times Pioneer Award 2021 in Education and Femina Icons 2020, among other awards and accolades.
Here are excerpts from her interview with EducationWorld where she talks about women’s empowerment, her journey as an edupreneur and more…
What inspired you to become an educationalist?
The experience I gained during my five-year integrated psychology course made me choose this path to spend my life with and for children. We started a little playschool in 1998. Our educational journey has evolved significantly into seven campuses since then, and we are so grateful for how it began! We need to find what lights us up and then do whatever it takes to achieve it; the success will surprise us. The success of SSVM has been attributed in large part to following that principle. I became an educationalist because of a passion to make a positive and inspiring difference in the lives of children.
What are the challenges you faced as you navigated this career and life as a whole?
Our path to edupreneurship unfolded naturally as a result of a necessity to provide quality education for all. We believe that initial fear and hurdles are common in career and life, but we enjoyed the steep learning curve where we learnt to nurture a deep sense of passion for motivating and educating ourselves to take the educational journey forward in rural, suburbs and in the heart of Coimbatore district. The passion we have for building, creating, and learning continues to outpace any adversities we face. Our challenges have become more of an opportunity to learn and we consider that our real strength. We never take ‘No’ for an answer, and we never give up.
As a woman, what are the challenges you faced while growing up/the liberties you enjoyed as a woman?
It doesn’t matter what your plan is, you just need to be willing to get off the merry-go-round and find a sustainable way forward. I have lived my life with liberty, grace and discipline and I always believe in setting the right work mode, and that’s how the woman within me was prepared for this edupreneurial life. This year, SSVM celebrates its 24 years of excellence. Though our times of adversity haven’t always been easy, they have brought us tremendous joy and satisfaction.
What inspired you to become the person you are today?
My passion and determination have always driven me to become what I am today. I am committed to integrity in my work and I will continue doing it even if I am the only one supporting me. As an edupreneur, I always value my time and think of others first.
How do you balance your personal and professional life?
Work-life balance has never been an area of concern for me as I have always cherished the freedom to focus on my work with passion while enjoying my personal life to the fullest.
Any women-specific issues in education that you would like to highlight?
Life is naturally divided into multiple roles for women. Beyond their individual responsibilities in family life, their contributions to education are commendable. Women are designed to overcome any challenge they are confronted with, and I do not see anything that can be an issue for them. Rather, they turn obstacles into opportunities for growth.
What according to you is feminism? As a woman, where do you think we are lagging behind? And how can we address them?
To me, feminism is all about valuing and empowering the diversity of experiences, identities, knowledge, and strengths of women. There is a low literacy rate among women in rural areas, which needs to be improved if a higher standard of living is to be achieved. Women’s empowerment begins with education, so it is imperative to ensure that they receive the right kind of education.
What are your future projects in the pipeline?
It makes me contented when my actions take precedence over my words. I am also committed to contributing towards skill-based education, health care and agricultural development as we expand our wings of knowledge beyond world-class K-12 education.
Your message for women on Women’s Day?
The women community is rich with possibilities, capabilities, and opportunities in this world. All women have to realise that they are the superheroes whom the world is looking for and live their lives to the fullest, regardless of their background. I celebrate womanhood and wish everyone “A VERY HAPPY WOMEN’S DAY!”Edutainment