Journey of an educationalist .. Ms.Malati Kalamadi

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Ms. Malati S Kalmadi is a Trustee of Kannada Sangha that runs the Kaveri Group of Institutes, Director of Anjali Morris Foundation that works for children with learning disabilities, and Founder Director of Kaveri Gifted Education and Research Centre. When we talk about women power, we find a very few who are successful, and Ms. Malati Kalmadi is one of the names from those rare lists of women who have been successful. She is basically a Kannadiga, but from Vijayawada (Andhra Pradesh) which used to be a very small town where she spent all her childhood days. She is a post graduate in English from University of Pune. She did a PG Diploma in Communication Media for Children from SNDT University, and School Psychology from Jnana Prabodhini which is affiliated to University of Pune. She also did her diploma in Experiential Education and short course in understanding gifted children. All these courses helped her to work in the field of education.

Being interested in the field of education, Ms. Malati Kalmadi started her career as a teacher in Karnataka High School Pune as a substitute teacher, which she did for three years. This experience transited her into accepting the role of Managing Trustee at Kannada Sangha Pune which runs the Kaveri Group of Institutes from 1989 till date. The institute has over 8500 students and around 450 teachers. She is also a core member of ‘Education Today, Society Tomorrow’, which is an activity of ‘Initiatives of Change’. ETST works in empowering schools across India to share best practices, working on self for the larger good of society. She conceptualized the Buddy School System, which is today in sync with NEP’s School Cluster System. Kannada Sangha Pune received the Rajyotsava Award in 2007, a recognition from the state Government of Karnataka, for its exemplary work in the field of culture and education outside the state of Karnataka.


She drives the education dimension of Kaveri Group of Institutes. She believes in doing the real work, irrespective of any position she holds. Even as a general member of Kannada Sangha, she used to dedicate a lot of her time and take efforts, because of which she is now a managing trustee. This as a whole has proved that post is not an important factor to her, but her passion which matters the most.


She has fond memories of her father-in-law, and says that “I have seen my father-in-law, Dr K S Rao, who was one of the founding members of Kannada Sangha, who dedicate his time towards the organization. We used to live in Kalmadi House, which is very close to the institute on Karve Road. I have seen my father-in-law helping in the construction work of the new school building. I would tell him not to do so, as we have people to do this work, and why do you have to do all this? He said “Malati the foundation has to be very strong”. He had referred to the building, but we know that Kannada Sangha is so sound because of the hard work and guidance of such people like my father-in-law.”


She is a Director at Anjali Morris Foundation, which works with the children having learning difficulties. She is working voluntarily with this organization and dedicates her time to the cause. She is doing an excellent work in this sphere. This foundation works with underprivileged students. Here students who are not able to pay fees are provided support for interventions. AMF runs on donations and CSR funding from the corporates.


Kaveri Gifted Education and Research Centre was established in 2014, primarily to nurture children with high ability in schools. She believes that some gifted children could go off the track if they do not receive the right support and environment in homes and schools. They could become victims of abuse like drugs or alcoholism etc. Her elder brother, according to her, was a gifted child, so she understands the importance of taking care of the needs of gifted children in schools. She is a strong supporter and devotes her time and energy in helping such children in schools.


She is the Project Convener of Indian Federation of University Women's Association. This is an organization (NGO) with its headquarters in Kolkata. As a Project Convenor, IFUWA has initiated a study on the coping strategies adopted by graduate working women during the pandemic.


She is a core member of “Initiatives of Change – Education Today, Society Tomorrow” in Panchgani and they are bringing together value-based individuals. Their Pune Chapter is recognized as Tuesdays for Tomorrow. Many schools have been participating in this group. They come together every third Tuesday to share their best practices adopted in their schools. Every month one school gets an opportunity to host the meeting and share their best practices with educators from other schools.


We see her as a very dynamic person. She constantly endeavors to learn new things and implement them in her institutes, which is what we can see being effectively adopted. The same thing we can observe about her school days.  Some factors of her childhood and upbringing does reflect in her present being. She is from a joint family system with eleven boys in the family which resulted in her growing up as a tomboy. She usually used to play games which the boys played. She has a very loving family and her strength comes from the environment that she was brought up in. She hails from a traditional conservative family and thus her roots are very strong and laid out of love.


Till her eight standard she was not good at her studies. She attended school regularly only to play. She was in a beautiful school called the Atkinson High School. It was an exclusive school for girls. She specifically went to school to play on the slides and the swings. The school had a huge garden. She used to grow many vegetables there, like ladies’ finger, coriander, chilies, brinjal, and many others. She was not interested in studies, but went to school for its extra-curricular activities. The school had a church close by and a chapel in the school building, and during the exam times, she used to pray there and say “God please pass me” but would never study. Teacher used to punish her for not doing her homework and ask her to stand in the center of the hall with the dunce cap. On returning home, there were often complaints from her sister who was also in the same school like “I feel so ashamed that Malati is not studying, not doing homework and getting punished”.


Later, in eighth standard she had a teacher, Miss Ramanamma, who had no fingers on her left hand, but had long beautiful fingers on her right hand, a very tall lady with long hair. She mostly carried the duster in her left hand. Ms. Malati was intrigued as a child and would wonder how her teacher could manage to do things with just one hand. She called Ms. Malati aside one day and said “I know you have brains, but why are you not studying?”. Ms. Malati shared her dislikes for mathematics and Hindi. Ms. Malati disliked Hindi because her teacher used to beat her on the knuckles for her writing. Ms. Ramanamma told her that if she helped her with these two subjects during the break, will she try to work hard?; to which Ms. Malati said that she will try. After eighth standard she changed completely and started coming first in the class and never stood second after that. She started enjoying going to school for not only play but for academics too.


Ms. Malati is forever grateful to her teachers, such as her mathematics teacher for changing her life altogether. It was her teacher who was able to work on her and her psyche. This is what she brought to this institution. This connect has to happen between the teacher and the student. She says “Every child is good, every child is different, every child is special, every child is unique and every child has potential and it is the responsibility of every teacher. I believe that every teacher is also good. Same thing with what I have spoken about children applies to a teacher too. Every teacher has potential. It is the responsibility of the school to recognize this potential. If we are unable to recognize this potential in the children and in the teacher then the school has failed. We as school teachers, as an institute should not fail in doing our work because the child always has potential to improve.”


She believes that education is not only about Teachers and Students, but it is about Parents too. Her efforts are really appreciable as in 2018 they received a huge grant from the University of Berkeley, California, from the Greater Good Science Centre. They started the Mindful Parenting Program. The mission of this program is to help parents, take care of their children to be able to nurture generosity, gratitude, compassion, empathy, and other pro-social characters which strength in themselves, so that they become the role models for their children.


Ms. Malati is a caring and loving person by heart. She loves cooking and cooks for her family very often. She balances work and family very strategically. She is an early riser, wakes up at 5:00 AM in the morning, thus she is able to manage her time for everything that she wants to do. Her day starts at 5:00 AM in the morning and ends at 10:00 PM in the night. She is blessed with lots of energy.


Her thoughts about the country and its development are “Looking at our country, becoming a very powerful nation within 10-15 years. We have to work on improving the quality of our school education. Once we set our school education in the proper channel, then sky is the limit. There is nothing to match our Indian brains and ethos”.


Her message to generation is “Love your work. You have to be very passionate, because if you do not love your work, you do not give your best; and if you do not give your best, you cannot be successful.”

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