Rajan Thampi: Working for a cause | Aga Khan Academies

Rajan Thampi: Working for a cause

Slotted above the library in the Academy Building is the Outreach department, a corner office with spartan furnishing. You wouldn’t know it to look at it, but this office is a crucial link between the Aga Khan Academy Hyderabad and local government school teachers and students in the region. Rajan Thampi, who has been connected with the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) for over a decade, is the program manager for the Outreach department at the Academy in Hyderabad. The opportunity to serve, he says, drew him to the job.

Rajan has played this role of connecting students to resources for his entire career. His work with Aga Khan Education Services began in 2008 in Maheshwaram Mandal, present day Telangana, where he implemented outreach programs for government schools and anganwadis. Rajan was in charge of programs like introducing life skills to high schoolers, leading health programs for adolescent girls, organising inter school sports competitions, and also training teachers for pre-primary and primary schools. Rajan’s other responsibility at that time, something he is still involved in, is creating and maintaining relationships with government officials.

A significant part of outreach depends on securing permission and getting recognition from government education bodies. Rajan played a major role in getting junior and senior schools recognised by the authorities. Rajan thanks the people who support the outreach department in these endeavors - the Academies Unit and members of the local board, Suleiman Hirani and Jayanthi.

Born in Kerala, the second of five siblings, Rajan grew up in Shakkarnagar, Telangana. Shakkarnagar is home to historical industrial era sites built under the Nizam. Most significant among these sites is the 1,600 square kilometer Nizam Sugar Factory that the town gets its name from. Designed as a model town, the place was built for factory employees and their families. “My father was an accountant in the factory,” remembers Rajan, “and we use to live in the accommodation provided by the factory in its colony.” Madhu Malancha high school, where Rajan went, was also created and funded by the factory. But India’s sugar trade has been in decline for decades, and in his lifetime Rajan has had to see the closure and privatisation of the massive factory. “Asia’s largest sugar factory is now shut,” he muses.

After completing senior school, Rajan gained a Bachelors in Commerce and started teaching at a private school. Finding his calling, Rajan then pursued a Bachelors in Education, focusing on social studies and education. Today he also has a Masters degree in social work under his belt. To Rajan, these degrees are tools to help others. Asked about the outreach department's future plans, his responses are ambitious and focused. “Reaching out to 31 districts of Telangana,” he says, “and to continue to share expertise through collaborative discussion forums for the government teachers are some of my plans.”

“Inner delight,” he says, “and the satisfaction obtained from working for a cause are the rewards I seek from my work." If the outreach program is a manifestation of the ethos behind service and stewardship, then Rajan exemplifies those ethos.