“Catch them Young”
The Malabar Group of Institutions which was started in the 1990s by Valsan Matathil is now a ray of hope for thousands of students from the underprivileged class living in Kerala.
In the 1990, when Valsan Matathil was a post-graduate student of economics in a college in Kerala, the college was on the verge of closing down due to severe financial constraints. The governing body of the college had no other option but to announce the immediate closure of the institute. But a group of students led by Valsan Matathil took over the governing body of the college and managed to stride through the tide. That decision was a stepping stone in Matathil’s journey in the field of education.
Matathil, now 51, who is from Varam in Kannur district, Kerala, has always believed that development is a gradual and continuous process which is not possible without laying a solid educational foundation. The more the government invests in education and on the young minds, the more all-round progress is possible. “Education and knowledge empowers the students and young generation to lead a better and brighter life in whichever field they choose,” he says and adds that education also enables students to develop an analytical mind which allows them to take appropriate life decisions. Matathil strongly believes that schools and colleges must impart only such skills and techniques which are required to succeed in life and face the mundane challenges. It is with this belief he laid the foundation of the Malabar Group of Institutions in the 1990s. The Malabar Group of Institutions is providing educational facilities to about 50,000 students in Kerala, Delhi and Gulf countries besides providing employment to more than 1,750. Matathil urges employees to treat their job as part of a noble mission. He says: “Earlier there was no provision of career counselling for students and even teachers and parents did not guide the budding talents. Things have and should change.”
The Malabar Group has more than 120 school buses for students from different family backgrounds, and especially the lower income group. The Group also gives free school uniforms, textbooks and other stationary items in addition to providing quality education. These educational institutions are a ray of hope for thousands of students and their parents living in the neighbouring localities in and around Kannur district. The Group runs many academic institutions, including Arts and Science Colleges, Polytechnic Colleges, Teachers Training Centres and B.Ed. Colleges starting from the three letters LKGs. “We focus on good quality education for the students from the weaker sections of the society and 95 per cent of our students are not from affluent families. To help students facing problems in studies, counselling and extra coaching classes are provided, which starts from 4:00 a.m. in the morning,” says Matathil. “The boarding facilities available at the educational institutes are of great help in fulfilling this noble mission.”
The Group focuses on moulding young talents from the fifth standard onwards, encouraging and motivating them for national-level competitive examinations. This includes Civil Services and Career Development Programmes under the auspices of A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Charitable Trust, which provides financial assistance to a large number of students to meet the expenses for their uniforms and other education-related activities. Matathil’s efforts are supplemented by his wife Smt. Sreeja Valsan, who has done M.Phil in Maths and a post-graduate degree in education. She herself is a highly acclaimed educationist. He has three children — Arjun, a student of Medicine; Ajay who is pursuing architecture course; and Adarsh, a professional cricketer.
Recognizing the sincere efforts made by the Group in the field of education, the Chief Minister of Kerala in 2018 conferred an award for his contribution in the field of education to Valsan Matathil. “This award has placed additional responsibilities on our shoulders to reach out to more students and work for the betterment of humanity,” says Matathil.
For his contribution to education and social development Valsan Matathil has been selected for the Mahatma Gandhi Samman 2019 which will be conferred upon at the House of Commons in London on May 20, 2019. He has also received several honors and awards such as the Sree Chithira Thirunal Smaraka award in 2008, honouring by the Rotary Club of Canannore in 2007 for Vocational Excellence and Junior Chamber International Achiever’s award in 2013. The Group provides better platform for budding young talents in various cultural fields inside and outside the campus. Many students have made their mark in various sports competitions and championships.
“People from our locality, irrespective of caste, creed and religion prefer our schools and colleges considering the quality of education and the way it is imparted. The high quality infrastructural facilities provided is also making a difference.” One of the factors that students and their parents look at the time of admissions in the Malabar Group of Institutions is the qualified and dedicated faculty. This draws students from far away places hoping that they get quality education. The Group has 44 educational institutions including Arts and Science College, Polytechnic, Teachers Training Centres and B.Ed College, CBSE schools and government-aided schools. The Malabar Group of Institutions started with providing education to LKG students and is now preparing students for various competition examinations. The Group has also opened coaching for IAS, IPS and Allied Services aspirants in Kerala, Delhi and the Gulf.
Valsan Matathil believes in “catch them young” and is giving his best in nurturing, shaping and moulding the children to be good global citizens. “I did my elementary education from Varam Upper Primary School in Kannur which was rather ordinary. I took up the task of looking after the school and today it stands proudly amongst the best schools in Kerala,” says Matathil who is reaching out to children in Delhi, Gulf and Middle East countries too through this noble pedagogy.