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Education is the key to success in life: C K Suresh, the founder of Tamil Foundation

Elizabeth Smith Elizabeth Smith 6 Mins Read

Elizabeth Smith Elizabeth Smith

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Higher education still remains a distant dream for many. Find out how this NGO helps the underprivileged gain access to good college education and earn a degree

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Education is the key to success in life: C K Suresh, the founder of Tamil Foundation

Good education is the key to success in life. It helps shape one's life and career and provides us with the skills necessary to succeed. However, basic education remains inaccessible and a luxury for many. And, more so higher education. A college degree is a gateway to a respectable job and career. But unfortunately, this is beyond the reach for many even today.

C K Suresh, the founder of Tamil Foundation, a non-profit organization that helps underprivileged students access a college education, talks about the organization's mission and how a college degree can have a positive impact on one's life.

How important is education? How does it shape one's life and career?

Education is at the forefront of our lives, and something as important can never be measured. We can say that human civilization is now complete with the availability of education. Education has helped change peoples' careers – rather than just holding on to a career to survive, it has allowed them to choose one that matches their inner potential.

How can education change the lives of the underprivileged in society?

The lives of the underprivileged have improved to a large extent today because of education. The present generation is using education as a tool to help the next generation lead a better life and fulfill their dreams. The underprivileged now understand that education alone will allow them to realize their fundamental rights and succeed.

Has the Right to Compulsory Education Act made a constructive impact on education for the underprivileged?

Yes, most certainly. Education is for all, and it is not right that anyone born in this country is unable to study because of their circumstances. So, compulsory education has definitely made a positive impact.

What are the struggles faced by the underprivileged with regard to higher education?

Higher education is essential for the development of a country. The work of any professional is an expression of their higher education. Continuing higher education today in our developing country is a struggle for many. It remains a question mark for several students due to their economic background and lack of awareness even though the government has paved the way for it. It is sad that the future of many gifted students gets affected badly because of their circumstances.

To what extent not having a college degree affect them?

Recognition is the basis for any action. This is very important in education. The only proof that a person has completed higher education is the degree that he receives. Even today, there are students who are struggling to find good jobs because they haven't been able to continue their education and obtain a degree. Attaining a certain level of education is a test of one's ability. It, therefore, helps them earn recognition in their life.

Tell us a little about your own educational journey...

Early education seemed like a huge burden to me. Due to family circumstances (my mother had to bring us up without our father's help), I pursued my schooling in various districts of Tamil Nadu. Though my mother's dream was for me to be a state or district level topper in the tenth grade, it did not happen. When it came to higher education, because of the lack of funds to pursue college studies, at my mother's request, I enrolled in a one-year course in knitting (in Tirupur). After completing the course, I reluctantly started working in related industries. But many knitting companies began to close in 2010, due to power shortage. I felt that I could not go any further because of my adverse socio-economic background. I told my mother that the qualification I had was not enough for me to progress in life and that I would like to go to college to pursue further studies. But my mother was not in favor of it as I had to go to work so that my sister could continue her schooling. Although my priority was shouldering the family responsibilities, I also wanted my desire of attending college and getting a good job fulfilled. Therefore, without my mother's knowledge, I managed to raise Rs 3,500 in 2011 with the support of a friend and a relative. Then, I started pursuing a degree course in Catering Science and Hotel Management at KSG College of Arts and Science, Coimbatore. I started to do night shifts in luxury hotels to manage both my family and college expenses. This went on for three years. Once I graduated, I worked as an assistant professor for two years in the same college. I then started the Tamil Foundation with my mother's support after realizing how hard it is for students like me to continue college studies.

Can you tell us about Tamil Foundation and its vision?

Tamil Foundation is a charitable organization established to assist the Government of Tamil Nadu under the Education for All program. We are currently aiding students to pursue engineering degree courses free of cost with the help of some of the premier educational institutes in Tamil Nadu. In the years to come, we hope to help the poorest students in schools and colleges, in all fields, as much as we can, for free or through concessions.

How does Tamil Foundation help underprivileged students access college education?

Tamil Foundation was established for the purpose of helping underprivileged students who are struggling due to unfortunate circumstances. Accordingly, we provide education free of charge through the Government of Tamil Nadu Scholarship for Admission and College Fees. In fact, our organization provides more assistance to those students who have lost their fathers and are studying due to the hard work of their mothers.

What degree courses are available for students through Tamil Foundation?

Students can enroll in either engineering or media and entertainment courses, which are essential for the country's economic development. Moreover, these courses are more job-oriented than others.

What are the changes that Tamil Foundation is working towards in order to make higher education easily accessible to all?

Tamil Foundation, being a sustainable voluntary organization, has been providing community-based scholarships to minority students and free education in various colleges through the Government of Tamil Nadu. We work with many educational institutions to help students get admission for specific engineering courses. Currently, students benefit through the Tamil Foundation in about 19 colleges in Tamil Nadu.

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