Dato’ Nelson Renganathan
Transforming the Education Landscape in Malaysia
There are a few who go the extra mile to share knowledge, embrace myriad career opportunities, and impact the lives of many. Meet Dato’ Nelson Renganathan, a seasoned persona who stands tall as a pioneer in delivering affordable quality international education across Malaysia.
Converting every dream into reality with his commitment to bringing world-class education closer to the masses, he is consistently paving the way for a cutting-edge learning environment. What makes his journey more interesting is the prowess to inspire others and make them understand the importance of education.
The Initial Journey
Dato’ Nelson started his career as a young researcher who loved his job and its continuous learning environment. However, the desire to be somewhere else and do something more productive always stayed at the back of his mind. Although his work was getting appreciated at the company, his boss and mentor made him realize that he had the potential to change lives.
He was young and inexperienced, but his boss’ influence and support turned him into a disciplined, avant-garde mind who soon left the job and found his calling in education. It was a big decision but with a growing sense of purpose to expand quality knowledge, Dato’ Nelson began his teaching career and became a mentor to many.
What Made Him Take a Leap?
Over the last decade, there has been a remarkable growth of international schools and the concomitant increase in student enrolment across Malaysia. This was due in large measure to government policies enacted to support the objectives of the 2010 National Key Economic Area, which aimed to transform the nation to high-income status and shore up its global competitiveness.
Dato’ Nelson believes that introduction of the international school system and private education has opened various opportunities for the overall development of children. It has forged a pathway towards world-class education, proficiency in the English language, personalized coaching and instruction, exposure to diverse cultures, and more. Through this approach, Malaysian families have the opportunity to be engaged in successful growth prospects.
However, costs related to tuition have always held families back from enrolling their children in international schools. That’s when Dato’ Nelson created an education delivery model that would not only be affordable but also ensure quality learning. As he wanted his children to be part of a solid academic preparation that would later allow them to continue their educational careers, he also aimed to create international education as a viable option for other students.
The biggest challenge to convert this idea into reality was to change the perception of all the stakeholders towards premium international schools in Malaysia and convince the community that their children can get the privilege of a full Cambridge International School curriculum at an affordable cost. Another major challenge was the acceptance of the vision and purpose on which the school was founded. But understanding and satisfying the essential requirements of students, parents, and all the other stakeholders helped Dato’ Nelson to create a win-win situation.
Today, 30 years down the line, he has successfully shaped his journey from an educator and founder of several educational institutions to leading Regent International Schools (RIS) as its Founder and Chairman. He’s most proud of the fact that RIS created an environment that eventually became intensely competitive to a point where charging ‘reasonable’ fees was not enough to set one apart from the others.
About RIS and its Torchbearer
Living by the name Regent, meaning ‘Leader in Waiting’, RIS is governed by the philosophy of equipping students with an academic qualification and co-curricular framework backed by values, knowledge, competencies, and life skills. It aspires to be a dynamic institution providing a holistic, value-laden education to produce global citizens. It is on a mission to inspire passion for personal and academic excellence.
The institution consistently inculcates a strong sense of respect and appreciation for diversity alongside empowering students to give back to society. What adds more value to its academic foundation and inclusive learning environment is its set of virtues—Adaptability, Compassion, Confidence, Courtesy, Creativity, Diligence, Integrity, Justice, Moderation, Perseverance, Responsibility, and Understanding.
Even when the current COVID-19 pandemic started changing the way education was imparted, the institution followed its DNA and took the necessary steps to stay on track. Under Dato’ Nelson’s aegis, RIS channeled its energies and resources to leverage digital capabilities and laid the foundation for its robust online classes. Although many obstacles arose, Dato’ Nelson’s guidance always found a way to adapt and conquer.
For instance, where most schools started cutting down on their staff or reduced their salaries, Dato’ Nelson made cost cuttings across necessary areas and sustained his staff as well their respective salaries. In explaining this bold decision he says, “I was keenly aware that all of us were suffering in one form or another, but our Regent educators remained committed to their students and the organization. Taking care of them in times of great need is what the Regent family is all about.”
Cheers to the Achievements
RIS does not need to trumpet its achievements. Instead, it focuses on producing graduates who are the best in the country and the world. Every year it appreciates the efforts of its International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) Year 11 students by revealing a banner in the schools with the unique phrase ‘RES IPSA LOQUITUR’ to symbolize that the facts speak for themselves.
In describing these achievements Dato’ Nelson says, “My genuine achievements are found in the many stories of students and staff overcoming adversities, in the struggles of children who are differently-abled and yet proving to the world that they, too, could succeed like the rest of us, in the hundreds of young men and women in colleges, universities, and workplaces around the world who once walked the halls of our schools, and in the educators who diligently prepare their lessons, mark their students’ homework correctly and on time, and show up to their classes every single day. They are what makes Regent a great and an enduring story.”
Here are some major achievements that exemplify this great and enduring story at its best:
• RIS received the award for the “Most Recognized Brand in Innovative in Private Education Excellence” by the ASEAN Retail-chains and Franchise Federation at the 2016 ASEAN Outstanding Business Awards.
• RIS was also featured amongst the “10 Best International Schools in Malaysia” for its impeccable management strategies by a global magazine for the year 2018.
• Another honorable moment for Dato' Nelson was getting featured amongst “The Most Admirable Educational Leaders in Malaysia” in 2019 for his dynamic leadership skills and mentorship.
A Good Team Can Do Great Deeds
Dato’ Nelson believes that Regent’s success is the result of the resilience and tenacity of each member of the Regent team, who exhibit amazing ability to recover from setbacks, keep an eye out for innovation, and stand firm during difficult times. As such, he encourages his team to conquer every challenge coming their way and make them future-ready. He ensures that the recruited educators are not only self-starters, inner-directed, and clear-eyed about their motivations, but also have discipline in their nerves.
With his years of experience, he states, “Over-reliance on structures and systems could have the opposite effect of making the organization inflexible and less nimble in the face of challenges and disruptions. Management systems are only as good and effective as the people driving it.”
“Managers must have the knowledge, expertise, and necessary assets to run the schools effectively and work through the challenges to unearth the opportunities that could be transformed into a real competitive advantage,” he added further.
A Note to the Educators
Dato’ Nelson considers education as a field where success is not measured in terms of growing financial health. He insists that it must be seen as, and it truly is, a vocation because it is where one will find one’s true meaning and purpose. This makes the mission of an educator, unlike any other profession.
Educators have the power to drive young minds in the right direction and shape their well-being. Therefore, they always need to put the students at the center of focus for all the educational endeavors and streamline their energies to effectively impact their lives in the long run.
The Way Forward
It’s a proud moment for Dato’ Nelson as Regent International Schools has entered into its tenth year of exemplary quality international education delivery. Currently, he is heading five campuses across Klang, Sungai Petani, Kuantan, Puchong, and Rawang, offering outstanding learning experiences to students from all walks of life. In the next five years, he’s planning to introduce five more schools in Malaysia. Furthermore, with the advent of technological advancements and the shift from physical classrooms to online education, he envisions a virtual school where students from anywhere and everywhere can enroll and embark on the Regent Education Pathway.