Uma Venkatachalam

The Educationist

Right from the young age of twelve, Dr. Uma has been in service to the poor and needy. In 1999, along with like-minded friends, she founded the Suyam Charitable Trust, to improve the lives of children in poor communities, especially street children, through education. In 2003, she started the Siragu Montessori School to provide free education for homeless and under-privileged children.

Dr. Uma Venkatachalam is an educationist and Managing Trustee of Suyam Charitable, living with a vision to create a Multiversity to provide free education to the poor. She comes from a family of teachers. Her mother was a teacher, her uncle is a teacher, and her aunt is a government teacher. When she was 12 years old, in the 6th standard, she would teach mathematics to 9th standard students.

This academic topper went on to earn no less than 10 degrees and certifications in the fields of mathematics, science, education and management, namely B.Sc. Maths, M.Sc. Maths, MBA, MSEM, PGDCA, Sahitya Ratna in Hindi, B.Ed in Hindi, Sanskrit, and a PhD – yet at the same time, she kept up with her volunteer work.

While researching for her studies, she realised the condition of beggars in our country. She took it up as a challenge to understand their life and how she could make it better. She went from traffic signals to slums, and wanted to give them proper shelter and education so they could live their dream.

Along with like-minded friends, she founded the Suyam Charitable Trust in 1999, which is focused on improving the lives of children in poor communities, especially street children and children who beg for a living, through education.

Her husband Muthuram and she went from school to school, but they were refused admission for these kids. In 2003, she started Siragu Montessori School, a school where these kids can think on their own, and learn with an innovative approach. There are no marks or grade comparisons; yet the students are ready to compete like any other kid for state level exams and college entrance tests. In the last two decades, through the continuous focus and selfless service and with the support of good samaritans, she has been able to run a second school, viz. the Bharatha Matha School. Suyam’s flagship school, Siragu Montessori near Avadi, Chennai provides free education to 450 children. So far, 1500 children have benefited from this project since 2003. The Bharatha Matha School caters to another 125 students.

When she started this school, people were against it. But who could imagine, that one day kids like Jayavel, Dhanraj and Balamani, who were on the streets would now be studying abroad, in IIIT etc. Dr. Uma feels like a proud parent and her kids are her support; their smile and laughter means everything to her.

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