Rajani Sajjan: Exceeding the Boundaries of Education

Shepreneur| education sector
Rajani Sajjan, Assistant Professor, VVP Institute of Engineering and Technology

Women see the world through a different lens than men and hence they interpret the requirements of leadership differently. They are natural relationship builders, conflict resolvers, and result-focused collaborators and today they are at the helm of various organizations, bringing lasting organizational and industry changes.

These women leaders are driven in their role of a change maker, shifting contexts, and reconciling paradoxes at the company, societal, and even individual levels. They embrace change as a matter of interest to produce atypical and breakthrough results.

Our quest to find such change-makers at various industry sectors, and who are leading large-scale transformations, compelled us to derive this edition. Herein, we interviewed Rajani Sajjan, Assistant Professor of VVP Institute of Engineering and Technology whose contributions are changing the education sector while cultivating an academic environment of excellence. The below conversation will tell us her evolution as an educational influencer and more about her institution.

Kindly brief us about you and your journey since the beginning of your career.

I have completed 21 years in the field of teaching. The journey after starting a career is the path we select out of many paths. The struggle we do while selecting a career and achieving it is the most interesting and worth to be noticed.

I am the first from both families (mother’s and father’s) to become an engineer, the first engineer from my school, and I have a little pride about it. But now when I look back, it feels like it was just the start of another journey, the one which I continued till now and will continue till the rest of my career.

I always wanted to be a teacher. Since my childhood I used to take tuitions for juniors, seniors which helped to feed our family. My school teacher counselled my parents about my bright career and thankfully my father agreed for that. I belong to an orthodox family where no one was in favour of higher education of girl child; rather girls were forced to get married at an early age. Somehow, my parents, younger brother managed to complete my engineering education, and I the most thankful to them. 

Kindly describe in brief about your institution and the various academic courses it offers.

Currently I am working with VVP Institute of Engineering and Technology, Solapur, Maharashtra, in the department of Computer Science and Engineering. This institute was established in the year 2009. It offers 5 undergraduate and 3 postgraduate courses.

How do you keep yourself motivated? Please tell us about your idols, and inspiration.

I strongly believe that self-motivation is the best motivation. Unless and until you don’t feel to go ahead and do something, nothing can happen. Your idols keep you calm in bad times and caring in good times. For me, my parents and kids are my idols. Their love makes every obstacle obsolete.

Share with us the most memorable and remarkable moment of your life, professionally. Also, the lowest phase of your life. 

I believe life is a journey and all that happens is a part of it. The moment one plans to do great things for students, all of your senses work extra-hard to achieve that moment. The most memorable moment in my career was, is, and will be when my students achieve their dreams.

My most remarkable moment was when I was successful at taking students to visit and donate useful things to the needy kids living in the ashram school; where I frequently visit and have chat a with them. Kids living in the ashram school told me that they got chalk-board, duster, chalks, books (educational + entertainment + career-making), pen, pencils, cricket kits, and other things from my students. That moment made me think that even if you don’t tell others to do something, not all, but some of them follow you and do good things for society.

Also the most challenging or toughest phase of my life was when I lost my only brother at a very young age. It was quite tough to make parents feel normal, especially for my mother. It took them a considerable amount of time to get back to their normal routines. When you know that you are the only one left to look after the situation, your pain fades away and even the deepest wounds start healing quickly.

Tell us about your passions, aims, and goals  

As mentioned before, my passion has always been teaching and learning. Considering the present scenario, teaching today has evolved as a two-way process wherein one, both learns and educates. Hence, I can answer that I aim to evolve as a remarkable mentor who is also a lifelong learner. Given that the aforesaid is my goal, my present goal is also to make my workplace a renowned one and make the work remarkable.

State us your major achievements and your institute’s achievements under your leadership 

I am working as the Head of Department at the Department of Computer Science and Engineering. We as a team of the department contributed to the NAAC accreditation work of our institute. The department stood first to arrange the parent-teacher meeting at the mass level. Further we started to organize programs viz. workshop, seminar, faculty development program, conference,  sponsored by University, Zilha Parishad, IEI Local Center, and other authorities. With proper strategies and work, we receive the best class and the best student annual prizes every year.

Kindly tell us about the challenges you faced to withstand the complexities of the education sector.

I have been serving the education industry for 21 years and over the period I have witnessed the reformation of the education sector. These changes have occurred due to the widespread use of technology in education. Engineering education specifically in India has a great impact on the Indian economy. As it plays a great role in the GDP growth it has some challenges too.

At my institute, students come from various backgrounds, which arises some complexities in dealing with them and moulding them for the IT industry. Students from the rural background hesitate to communicate about their doubts with teachers and sometimes with their friends too. It seems quite difficult for them to have a conversation in the local language and having to communicate in English is a nightmare for them. Making them talk and discuss is a big challenge being a teacher.

What are the most important lessons you’ve learned throughout and would like to share?

The below-mentioned points are some of the lessons that I have observed and analysed both in my professional and personal life

  • One should respect the fruitful idea; let it come from anyone, irrespective of age, position, gender.
  • One should always be active in any one of the sports, it helps to handle any kind of situation in life as well as career. Being a female, I think that sport keeps the mind clear and vision focused. I used to play and have also won karate championships and I continue practising it. This has helped me to handle critical things in personal and professional life.
  • At the global scenario, I think, India has to take major advanced steps to enhance and improve the engineering skills. Especially, as per my perspective, we are lagging in bridging the gap between industry requirements and curriculum design. Major research and analysis work has to take place to bridge up the gap so that skilled engineering students will not face issues to get their dream jobs.
  • Our current education system includes various academic phases; nursery (1 year), primary(6 years), and secondary (5 years), in a total of 12 years. Then it takes a minimum of 6 years to get an engineering degree. This means one kid has to invest almost 18 years to get a degree and if possible a job too. In this era of online education and breakneck speed, kids don’t need to invest 18 years to acquire knowledge. Through this medium, I would like to appeal to the education specialist to reform the current education system in such a way that at the age of 18, kids should start working in his/her expert field. This topic is of great analysis and work.

Where do you see yourself in the near future? Tell us about your future goals. 

Now we do use e-learning as well as traditional learning resources in the education industry. In the coming future almost everything will be based on e-learning and all classes will be online. The education industry is going to witness a great switch over a learning platform and the role of a teacher in this scenario.

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