New-age education evangelist

Bangalore-based education evangelist Rajesh Rao is founder-director of Connecting the Dots Pvt. Ltd (CTD, estb.2013), a company providing high-quality, affordable IT-enabled classes VIII-XII science and math education in English and local languages to government, government-aided and private schools. The company also offers teacher training programmes and partners with NGOs and corporates such as Bosch, Capgemini and Infosys Science Foundation to aid and enable their CSR (corporate social responsibility) initiatives in education. 

CTD’s flagship innovation Cloud Tutor, designed by IIT graduates and professional teachers — launched in 2016 — beams live and two-way interactive virtual lessons directly into classrooms supervised by school co-ordinators. The lessons supplement the curriculum taught by the schools’ teachers according to a pre-determined time table during and after-school hours. Access to the virtual classroom requires a desktop computer, a standard Internet connection, overhead projector and screen. Live classes can be recorded and stored on cloud for repeated viewing. Thus far, CTD has delivered supplementary tuition (Rs.1,300-1,800 per student per year) to 11,000 students and 3,500 teachers across Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.

History. A mechanical engineering alum of IIT-Madras and the University of Alabama, USA, Rao began his career with IT behemoth Infosys Technologies in 1992. After acquiring 17 years of “rich working experience”, Rao put in his papers to follow his passion for digital education delivery and dissemination. In 2010, he signed up with the rural development ministry of the Andhra Pradesh government, to assist several social development projects. Three years later, Rao partnered with like-minded acquaintances Anubhuti, Rashmi, Pranav and Abhishek, to promote CTD with a capital investment of Rs.20 lakh.

Direct talk. “The difference between CTD and traditional pedagogies is that we develop the problem-solving skills of children by using experiments, demos and simulation to arouse their explorative intelligence. We also familiarise teachers with new-age digital technologies to enhance children’s learning experiences and enable experiential learning. Over the past five years, I believe we have alleviated the challenges of rampant teacher shortage and high cost of education in a small but significant way,” says Rao. 

Future plans. Unsurprisingly, this can-do edupreneur has drafted a roadmap for the future. “More important than what students learn is how they learn. We want to change the way students learn science and mathematics across India. Our target is to reach 2 million students by 2020. Towards this end, we will scale CTD’s operations through a combination of expanded franchisee network and direct tie-ups with schools and colleges. We are also in talks with several corporates to implement and enable their CSR projects. This will expand our reach to thousands of students in government and government-aided schools in remote locations,” says Rao.

Wind in your sails!

Paromita Sengupta (Bangalore)