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Helping poor Indian students in Malaysia settle in life

world Updated: Jun 03, 2007 13:06 IST

A tuition centre set up in Malaysia 25 years ago to help Indian students from the lower income groups to perform better academically today boasts of having over 100 centres across the country.

Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, the Sri Murugan Centre (SMC) claims to have helped in educating about 250,000 students, some of whom have returned as tutors to repay the debt they owe to the centre.

The centre's director and founder, academician M Thambirajah, said he was compelled to provide a centre for the financially challenged Indian students to help them secure a better future in Malaysia.

However, it was not a smooth sailing for Thambirajah when he started with only four centres at Klang, Petaling Jaya, Seremban and Sentul in 1982, with just 40 students.

Many people were sceptical about his motive and thought he was doing it for a seat in parliament, the New Straits Times reported.

Thambirajah said he never thought his effort would come this far.

"Every religion speaks of discipline and that is what I make them follow. We bring discipline and education together," Thambirajah said.

"I had no long-term plan then... we worked on a year-to-year basis," he said.

Interestingly, today approximately 90 per cent of the tutors are former students of the centre.

Suraindran, co-director of the centre, said: "Mobilising the tutors are never a problem for us, though initially it was difficult to find dedicated teachers."

G. Ganesan, a former student of the SMC, now teaches history at one of the centres.

"SMC had helped me a lot. I think it is only fair that I give back what was given to me," he said.

According to Selvam, another former student, SMC is not like any other tuition centre.

"They care about us and make us feel appreciated," he said, adding motivational talks and confidence-building sessions helped him.