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CTS, Where education is more than academics.

CTS-Ravi.JPGRavi Ragoonath is one of the co-founders of CTS College of Business and Computer Science. He has helped build a leading educational institution that has won some major world prizes even beating out the far larger and more prominent schools.

How did he do it? Ragoonath was the second to last child in a family of nine. His father and mother were both labourers and things were tough growing up. He recalls, it was rice and dhal almost everyday and meat was rare. If the neighbour’s chicken got bounced down then we had meat.

Ragoonath is proud to say that he went to a Junior Sec and later he attended Presentation College in Chaguanas.He then graduated and went to UWI in 1990 to study computer science. Ragoonath faced a serious issue. Poverty came back to haunt him as he did not have the funds to go to university but he came up with a plan. He applied to be a teacher and found employment back in Chaguanas Junior Secondary school. He claims that he was the second ex-student to return as a teacher. His strategy had one flaw as a full time student as he could make it to UWI only after work. This meant he missed most classes for the first two years. This did not stop him from graduating with first class honours. “An education can change things for the better especially when you are poor,” says a determined Ragoonath.

In 1999 Ragoonath and some friends from UWI decided to start a business selling hardware and software solutions. He and partner Nigel Polar put up the start up capital. They rented a place in Chaguanas and since things were slow they decided to keep their full time jobs to meet the demands of the business. Then Ragoonath drew from his teaching experience and turned the organization into a school. “The space we rented was large so the school used that. We started with just 18 students in 1999,” he remembers. That however was not enough to pay the bills.

During 1999 to 2006 the school saw phenomenal growth. Ragoonath explains the drivers that took the school into profitability. The school added to its core CXC a number of IT and business courses like ACP, IMIS and ABE. This generated increased interest and the use of full page print advertising and radio attracted students from all over the country. Ragoonath feels that word of mouth was far the greatest factor that pushed the school to the next level. Word of mouth has the advantage of credibility and persuasion.

Ragoonath explains that his personal devotion to students extends late into the night and he would get meals prepared for the late studying students. He claims he does it for the love of it and when students meet over a meal there is the camaraderie aspect that does not exist any where else. The school often has events like a family day which is free to all students. He says at CTS they go beyond the academics.

CTS was sitting on a gold mine and with the coming of the GATE program it was just waiting to be tapped. Many of the students who studied the diploma programs wanted to get a BSc degree in computer science and were locked out of the system.  CTS was able to form an alliance with the University of Hertfordshire to admit these students into their computer degree program. The program is an on line study one but was adapted with local lectures, in what is called blended learning. The working student had the advantage of late or weekend classes. Ragoonath thinks our culture does not make on line study attractive as many pupils lack the discipline.

The school over the years has won a number of world prizes despite its size. In 2007 it won 7 prizes, in 2008 and 2009 got 15 and 10 respectively. He credits the staff, many of whom were his students and who fit nicely into the family type culture.

Pushing success further, CTS has recently introduced two degree programs in business, a bachelor in business (BBA) and the other a master of business administration (MBA) from Gibaran Learning Group in Australia. The school plans to move out to a bigger campus with better classrooms, restaurant, gym and an area where students can congregate. Ragoonath does not believe in a multi-campus school as some of his competitors. He wants to keep that personal touch with students as that helps CTS differentiate.

Ragoonath says he and his co-founder Polar do not want to create the biggest school. Instead they want to produce students who are happy and contented. The school’s mission is to create students who can contribute to society and be agents of change.  

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