Manju Malathy: Cultivating Curiosity through Education


Manju Malathy is the epitome of grace. Engaging in conversation with her is both calming and educational simultaneously. I talked to her over the phone for the first time to schedule a video interview for SheSight Magazine. She was warm and welcoming and we had a quick chat. I eagerly anticipated conversing with a teacher boasting nearly a decade of expertise, only to discover that she passionately shares her educational journey, revealing the spirit of a lifelong learner within her. She believes it’s her mentors at SCMS and family support that carved the confident individual that she is today.

When I inquired about the factors that led her to pursue teaching as a profession, she expressed that her time at SCMS provided her with the assurance to communicate effectively and explore diverse avenues for training and career development. After graduating from SCMS, she got the opportunity to work in collaboration with TCS in modernizing government programs and while working there she got married, had kids and during that break, she thought of taking a career where she could balance work and family.

Initially, her foremost concern when embarking on her career was to dedicate ample time to her children. It was during this period that Bharat Mata College, a renowned educational institution in the Ernakulam district, conveniently located near her residence, presented an excellent opportunity for her to begin her teaching journey. There started the journey of teaching and mentoring which now accounts for her 10 years in teaching.

Teaching, according to her, especially the graduate students who come to college fantasizing about a life that they see in movies is quite adventurous and challenging at the same time, which she loves. She carved her way to inspire these young learners and navigate them to have career goals.

She holds the belief that she embodies qualities of compassion, attentiveness, humility, and deep respect for others as they are. Not only does she inspire them in their careers, but they also freely share the challenges they face in their personal lives with her.

She believes it is her mentor Dr. Radha Thevanoor who inspired her to dream and find real passion. She
gives full credit to her kindergarten teacher and Dr. Radha Thevanoor for the confident person she is

Manju acknowledges that she encounters challenges, but they are not influenced by gender. She expresses disappointment in the lack of initiative among teachers to push their own boundaries and finds it particularly disturbing when women seek permission for their actions. Manju believes that if women embrace challenges, pursue their passions, and remain authentic, it would make a significant difference.

Moreover, Manju believes that it’s crucial for women to seriously embrace research, drive innovation, and evolve personally. She constantly reminds her students that marriage is just a part of life and shouldn’t define their entire being. Manju encourages individuals to have control over their lives, including matters of finance and other aspects.

One of the key points she emphasized was the necessity of periodically upgrading the education system and the importance of a comprehensive curriculum that equips students with the necessary skills for a demanding and sustainable career.

As a trainer, she concentrates on developing communication skills, being expressive, asking questions, and believes that is the way forward. As a teacher, she also believes that students should come out of the
societal norms that are patriarchal. Follow their heart, passion and do what they believe in, and stand up
for themselves.

A teacher reiterating these values is a good sign for society. She is going to inspire a
generation to understand the knowledge she imparts and make it part of their life.

There are three essential changes she envisions for society: eradicating gender bias, fostering a non-judgmental environment, and ensuring inclusive education that reaches rural areas. Additionally, she emphasizes the utmost importance of updating and improving the curriculum.

A crucial message that authorities should pay heed to is the need for higher pay or equal pay. If she were to hold a position of power, such as Chief Minister or Prime Minister, she expressed her commitment to bolstering the judiciary and empowering it to make impartial decisions, particularly in cases of violence against women. She envisions creating a secure environment where women can feel safe and protected.

When asked about the most amazing/satisfying moment as a teacher, she said every moment in the 10
year journey is beautiful and has a learning curve. But the most touching one that remains close to her is this incident:

She had to dismiss three students from the college many years ago because they didn’t attend classes. One of them behaved very rudely with her and that made her feel bad. She did move on later when she learned that he had enrolled in another course. Years later, he invited her to his wedding and told her he admired her as a teacher and wanted her to share his joy.

A true teacher is someone who follows their conscience and does what is right. A true human being is the same. That’s what Manju Malathy, the dynamic teacher and researcher, is telling you.

Interview by Dr. Anju Nandakumar who aspires to contribute to society through her work and writings. Anju loves traveling and understanding the life and culture of people from different backgrounds.

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