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Educational Tour to India by the students and teachers of the Technology Stream of St. John’s College 19th March 2016 – 27th March 2016

The team from St. John’s consisting of the Principal, four teachers and seven Advanced Level students left the College at about 8p.m.on Saturday, 19th March 2016, by NCG Colombo bus and reached Katunayake airport at 2:30 a.m.

DAY-1, 20.03.2016

For four hours the airport was home. The teamboarded Mihin Air, a budget airline which departed on time at 8::40 a.m.
At the arrival gate Er. Leslie from Australia, the coordinator was waiting. He took us to lunch where his colleagues joined us. The following were discussed:

  • The Higher education system of India
  • There were several colleges in India preparing students for courses offered by universities.
  • Guidelines on what to teach/learn are given by the universities.
  • Decisions on how to teach are made by the colleges.
  • In the final certificate, no mention of the college is made – only the name of the university is mentioned.
  • Students in India are expected to make a lot of researches.
  • The standard of education is higher in India now than in the past.
  • Universities now work hand in hand with industries in India.
  • The courses offered by such universities are tailor-made to meet the demands of all the industries and are therefore highly relevant.

There are countless opportunities in India. One will have to explore them,’ said Mr.Lesly, the coordinator of the excursion.
After lunch, the team from St. John’s College were taken on a tour of the Chennai city. They were shown the Marina Beach, Annathurai and MGR’s Memorial Square and later taken to Pothy’s for shopping.

Dinner followed in the shop opposite Pothy’s.

DAY-2, 21.03.2016

The first stop was the place of Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination.

Next the team headed to the CUMI, SPR plant, the biggest Abrasive manufacturer in Asia and the third biggest in the world. This plant which was started in 2006 caters to numerous international markets including Sri Lanka. It needs to be mentioned that this plant coated the Common Wealth Games Torch in 2010.

Next we were taken to a conference room where Er.Sunilkumar, the person in charge of operations did a powerpoint presentation to give the Johnians a foretaste of what awaited them.
Next they were taken to the ‘Maker’ plant where large gigantic robots lifted heavy iron rods and rolls of abrasives. Er. Arunkumar, the Total Production Manger took the team on a tour of the plant which was built on 22 acres of land at a cost of about USD 20 million, and explained the processes rather eloquently.

It takes 5 hours for a product to go through all the process of the production plant. In 2010, the plant was calculated to be 35% efficient. After years of steady improvement, it operates at an efficiency level of more than 70% now.

Next, the team from St. John’s College visited Sri Vengadeswara College of Engineering. Professor Badrinathan, Dean of the Mechanical Section (Faculty of Engineering) and batch mate of Er.Leslyshowed the team around.

Electrical, Mechanical and Hydraulic Dynamometers that measure power and torque and their functionalities were shown and explained.
The Machine Shop was the next section the team visited. Here, the students got to see the Gear Hobber Machine, Gear Shaping Machines, Milling Machine (NC Lathe Automatic Tools Changer), Slotter and other equipment which work on gears with both internal and external teeth. Most of the machines were from Sunshine Industries.
The next stop was Vellore Institute of Technology. The team was taken to lunch first.
Next, they were shown all the labs (the main ones like Chemistry, Modern Physics, Information Technology, Electrical Machine Lab CAD/CAM etc) in the first four storeys of the 8 storey building.

There were many other towering buildings in the campus, the team didn’t get the time to visit.
VIT believes in a sound foundation. Regardless of the results one gets, he or she has to go through a‘re-learning’ process. They are taught Maths, Physics and Chemistry again along with English. During this foundational or transitional year, they are allowed to do researches and practicals on whatever topic they wish at whatever time is most convenient to them.
After VIT, the team visited Paris Corner, had dinner on the way and returned to their lodging at St. Thomas’ Mount.

DAY-3, 22.03.2016

The team from St. John’s vacated DMI Karunaiillam Retreat on St. Thomas’ Mount and climbed uphill to see what lay beyond.
The Mount is said to be the place where the disciple of Jesus Christ, Thomas, was martyred. The journey to the peak was dotted with banners and hoardings about Jesus and the Bible.

Next, the group visited Simpsons where cameras were totally banned within the premises. Engineer Muhunthakumar briefed the gathering about the organisation and assembly process.
The engines are first assembled, tested and then sent to the finishing department,’ explained Mr. Muhunthakumar. ‘You have got a great chance to visit an assembly plant in a foreign country. We never got a chance like this during our school days. Your Principal has taken so much interest to bring you here. This is very rare.’

Mr.Muhunthakumar had a sound advice for the students. ‘To be young researchers, to make your dreams of becoming an engineer a reality do projects and practicals with the aim of acquiring application knowledge. Even an uneducated person can google to acquire knowledge; how are we going to apply what we learnt is the application knowledge which is very important for you to develop.’

After the visit to Simpsons, the team was taken for lunch by Mr. Jerome, a successful businessman and Mr. Leslie’s friend.
Mementos were given to the following people who had been very helpful to Mr.Leslie in coordinating and arranging the meetings:

• B.J.Muralikrishnan, General Manager, Carborundum Universal Ltd.
• Prof. Malathi Mohan
• Mr.Gerald Lucian
• Shri A C Muthukannan, National Council Member
• Dr.C.JosephKennady
• ErThanigai Arul, Managing Director, Civil Constructions Ltd
• Er.A.Mahendran, Executive Engineer, WRD, Chennai
• Er.V.KanianPoonkundran, Assistant Engineer Civil, Tamil Nadu Electricity Board

Next, the team visited IIT – Indian Institute of Technology. There were several branches of Engineering here. Of the total of sixteen departments, about 8 were Engineering.

The team was first shown a library which was fully computerised.
Next, three different workshops were conducted by three different professors. The first session was taken by Prof.K.Krinaiyya, Chemical Engineer, the second by Prof. Arul, Civil Engineer and the last by Prof. Sarathy who repeatedly stressed on the need to be multi-disciplinary in order to succeed.

DAY 4, 23.03.2016

Karunya University was the first destination of the day.
Dr.A.SamsonNesaraj, the person in charge for admissions said that the building was founded on one man’s vision. The team took a photograph with the photograph of Dr.D.G.S.Dinakaran, the founder of Karunya University and his family.
The university which is located on 700 acres of land has 19 departments and 16 programmes. Food, water, healthcare and energy were the focus of researches conducted there. The university which is fully residential, housed more than 8000 students on campus.
After grade 10, students can take a three-year (Indian Polytechnic Diploma Programme (vocational training programme) and join the Engineering faculty in the second year. In Sri Lanka, however, a student has to sit for the O/L exam in grade 11 wait for about three months for the results, study A/L for two years and wait for 1 ½ years to get into a university. Therefore, one could save two years by studying at Karunya.

Alternatively, one can get admission to the first year (Engineering), if he/she gets at least 50 for Maths, Physics and Chemistry.

Next, the team visited some of the labs where they learnt a lot about torque, hardness, brittleness etc of metals. The team visited the Aeronautics Engineering lab as well.
The blades of the rotor were made of wood. The Principal called the students to a side and said, ‘You needn’t buy expensive parts. Instead you can make them with what is available at a fraction of the cost.’

The next stop was RVS College of Engineering and Technology, Coimbatore. Established in 1983, it boasts of 35,000 students and 4500 employees. 45 institutions are headed by the RVS Group of Institutions.
The Principal and Mr.Lesly had a discussion with the Chairman of RVS, Dr.K.V.Kupusamy.

The Chairman said, ‘I was once a porter. I studied only up to grade 10 but now I am providing tertiary education to 45,000 students. There is potential in everyone.’ He also talked about how he lost his son in an accident. ‘I wanted to do something in remembrance of him.’ And that something turned out to be something really big indeed – the RVS College of Engineering and Technology.

DAY 5, 24.03.2016

The day’s programmes began with a visit to the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University where the students were shown the Food Processing Unit.
Prof.S.Kanapathy gave an introduction so that they will be able to connect theory with practice. He said that after lectures, students met farmers, listened to their needs and did research to come up with something that would ease the life in the agriculture sector.

There were so many kinds of machinery which were modelled after intensive research and hard work by the university students. There were even machines that divided mangoes on the basis of how much they had ripened.

Next, the team headed to Shanthy Gears, manufacturers of gears and machinery for heavy vehicles like trains, planes, ships and cranes. They spent a long time there learning about cutting, moulding and shaping gears. This was probably the highlight of the visit to India. Everyone agreed that the session had been very useful and that they had acquired a lot. To top it all, lunch and tea was served to everyone.

Visiting a link school of St. John’s College

The Principal, Mr. Leslie, Mr.C.A.Pararajasingam and Mr.J.R.AbrahamPrasath went to Geedee Public school, a link school of St. John’s College, under the British Council’s Connecting Classrooms and Schools online programme. They met the Principal and the teacher-in-charge of the ISA projects. The CD on ‘Traditional Game of Sri Lanka – Kilithattu,’ prepared by the Primary School of St. John’s College along with their wishes of greetings were handed over.
The Principal of Geedee handed over a piece of 3D quilling art of a motocycle.

There were a few hours left before dinner so it was decided to do a bit of shopping. ‘A bit’ however, turned out to be ‘a lot!’

DAY 6, 25.03.2016

Mr. Gerard, an old boy of the College paid a visit in the morning. The day’s events were discussed with him.

The team, with Mr. Gerard went to Deccan Industries.

There, the students learnt about submersible pumps, tube wells, pump pressure, compressors etc.
Next, the team from Sri Lanka headed towards Gee Keyy Engineering Co where they learnt about aluminium die casting. The students got the chance to see aluminium being liquefied under temperatures of above 700 degrees and then being poured into moulds. This was the last place the students got to visit.

After lunch at Anapoorani, everyone went to a bookshop. Books were cheap in India and the students bought whatever books they thought were important.

That night, the team had a fellowship dinner with Mr.Leslie and his friends – it was to be the last supper with Mr. Leslie.

After dinner, Darvinth, a student of St. John’s, delivered a short speech. He thanked all the invitees – Mr.Gerald, Mr. and Mrs.Thanigai Arul and family and Mr. and Mrs.Kesavamoorthy and family. A special word of thanks went to Mr. Leslie for donating Rs.1 million to build the hostel washrooms in 2013/2014. Mr. Leslie, one of the Consultant Engineers who has undertaken to upgrade the Technology Faculty to Engineering Faculty standards was thanked for coming all the way from Australia to organize this excursion. All the visits to universities, factories and technical colleges were made possible because of his efforts and because of the efforts of his friends. He was also thanked for working with the Principal to get admission to Indian universities.

Darvinth ended his speech with a request. He asked Mr.Leslie to organise similar excursions in the future for the benefit of the others in the Technology stream.

Mr.Abraham Prasad proposed the Vote of Thanks on behalf of the staff. He too expressed the same sentiments expressed by Darvinth.

Mr.Leslie in reply told the students to study well. He said, ‘Everyone trusts you and wants you to do well. All what we have done would amount to nothing if you don’t study seriously.’ He said he was grateful to his Indian friends who went out of their ways to make arrangements for this excursion.

The Principal gave a speech next. He thanked Mr.Leslie for all the help he had extended and presented him with a memento.

After the Principal blessed everyone, the team got ready to part ways.

DAY 7, 26.03.2016

Early morning, everyone got ready and headed to Cochin.

The drive was long. The students got a chance to see a highway being built and a mountain being bored for this purpose.

On the way, they stopped by a plant nursery and bought varieties of seeds. The Principal bought some plants – to take back as ‘living mementos’ of the excursion to India.


DAY 8, 27.03.2016

The team went to the airport. The flight was delayed by about half an hour.

The flight took off at about 10:15 a.m.

Finally they reached Sri Lanka where a bus was ready at the airport to pick them up.

They boarded the bus and reached their respective homes by 9:30 p.m. and were present to school on Monday morning – more knowledgeable now than a week ago.
Outcome of the Visit

  • This is the first foreign educational excursion organized by St. John’s College according to available records.
  • The benefits gained and the knowledge acquired was greater than the expenditure incurred.
  • Have a clear idea of the pathways available after A/L for a Sri Lankan student in India.
  • Students can complete their degrees two years sooner in India than in Sri Lanka.
  • Start by inventing something small – focus to shift from theory to practice.
  • Sri Lankan students offering subjects in the Technology Stream for Advanced Level can take a Bridge Course in India and enter the Engineering Faculty in India.
  • Linked with Karunya University and RVS Collegeaffiliated to Anna University to get Engineering/Dental and all the other degrees up to PhD.

Participants’ Feedback

Before going to bed on the last day, the Principal asked the students and teachers to fill out a feedback form.
Almost all the students rated the places visited, food and accommodation five out of five. The overall satisfaction too was rated five out of five by most of the students.
Some of the comments given by students are:

  • ‘I must study, become an engineer and organize similar excursions for young Johnians like Leslie Anna.’
  • ‘I must study in India and become an Automobile Engineer.’
  • ‘Helped me to select my path.’
  • ‘Encouraged me to invent something.’

Proposed Activities/Action Plan

  • Pass this information to the parents. This information will also be shared with other schools in Jaffna.
  • Lab should be adequately equipped with machinery needed by the Technology students.
  • Encourage commencement of more English Medium classes for O/L and A/L students – to prepare them to gain admission to English medium universities in India.
  • A group of faculty members of Karunyaand RVS will be visiting St. John’s in May/June 2016.

Thus, the first educational excursion to a foreign country proved to be an immense success.

Mas.K.Praveenan - Student
Mas.V.Vishpan - Student
Mas. M. Manimaran - Student
Mas. S. Sree Mosh Denesh - Student
Mas.S.Darvin - Student
Mas.S.Sarujan - Student
Mas.S.Srirangasarma - Student
Mr. R. Mathiwarnan- Teacher
Mr. T. Mathan- Teacher- Teacher
Mr. Abraham Pirasath- Teacher
Mr.C.A.Pararajasingam - Teacher
Revd.N.J.Gnanaponrajah-The Principal


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