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Published by Shibu Itty Kuttickal, 2019-12-04 08:50:10



Social grace is
our calling card

Selfless service, sacrifice and affirmation to the
calling for a righteous life are our hallmarks.

Selfless service, sacrifice and affirmation to the
calling for righteous lives are our hallmarks.


Founded 2015
Schools 13
Nurseries 14
Students 20,000
Teachers 2,000
Non-teaching staff 1,800


ATHENA Education Investments LLC is currently one of the leading groups of schools in the
Arabian Gulf. The group is the result of a great concern for the society at large, combined with a well-
articulated philosophy, vision and passion that the founders have for the noble profession of education.

Since its founding in 2015, Athena has in the principles of individual uniqueness and
achieved prodigious growth on the back of a freedom of thought. We are committed to
well-articulated vision, conviction and hard developing our students as outstanding and
work. The group currently owns and independent learners with “social grace”.
manages 27 institutions, following the
American, British and Indian curriculum. It V.N.P. Raj, Athena’s founder, chief executive
has a strong presence in the nursery, primary officer and managing director, defines social
and secondary education spheres in the UAE grace as an attribute of individuals brought
and India, with the number of students in up in a culture of learning independence.
excess of 20,000 and teachers over 2,000.
Such individuals can confidently partake in
It has already established a leading perpetuating righteous attitudes for the
educational brand in the Arabian Gulf and is benefit of the society at large. Their
spreading wings around the region and hallmarks are selfless service, sacrifice and
beyond with a quest for excellence in commitment to the calling for a righteous life.
Athena’s philosophy of education prepares
The Athena brand exists with the promise of students for fulfilling and rewarding lives
providing its students a strong value ethos ahead, while providing them an education
based on social grace. Our vision is grounded enriched in academics.

HEALTHY FINANCIALS Teachers, on their part, ensure that learning
independence of students is maintained,
A rapidly growing private equity group while imparting quality education through a
in the UAE and Indian education sector, host of educational software deployed across
Athena has performed well for its teaching, learning and assessment
stakeholders in the past four years. The programmes.
FY 2018-19 saw group revenues
surging 30% to AED 248 million, with Athena is seeking to own and manage a
a profitability of 36%. We project FY portfolio of schools under its banner across
2019-20 revenues of AED 430 the Arabian Gulf Cooperation Council, India,
million with the acquisition of three the UK, the US and elsewhere in the world.
more schools in the UAE progressing. For the future, the group is considering
branching out to colleges of education as a
vertical integration strategy.



THE ATHENA managing board VASUDEVAN Nair Prasenna Indian banking industry after
is committed to the highest (V.N.P.) Raj, founder and co- completing an MA in Economics
standards of corporate owner of Athena Education with a second rank from the
governance and academic Investments LLC, is the principal University of Kerala, India.
administration. visionary of the group. He is a
passionate educationist, He and his wife, Sasikala Raj,
CHAIRMAN philosopher, entrepreneur, have been UAE residents for
professional consultant and about three decades, both
OUR Chairman, a highly reputed healthcare provider all rolled into mostly serving in the banking
UAE national, is a career one. The founder’s values, vision industry.
bureaucrat and a banker of and passion have been the
eminence. He has been leading engines propelling Athena into a But Raj has always been drawn
and guiding the Athena group vibrant group and brand from a to education and that has been
since its inception. very humble beginning. his focus over the past four or
five years. He has harboured a
He serves as a board member of Raj has about 33 years of desire, since his college days, to
a number of international banks in experience in India and the UAE be involved in positively
the UAE. across banking, finance, impacting and developing
education and healthcare children holistically. (He recalls
More information about our sectors. He is the founder and his first stint as a teacher in a
chairman may be shared with managing director of small tuition centre near his
prospective partners on a management and accountancy home village. Later on, he was
confidential basis. consultancy firm PRS, financial also a faculty in the National
services company, providing Bank of Dubai’s training centre.)
management, finance and
accountancy solutions to That desire and the hard knocks
businesses of repute in the UAE. he took in his growing-up years,
because of the absence of a
Raj wanted to be a professor, father figure — his father passed
but started his career in the away when Raj was just eight —
moulded him for a career as an
entrepreneur and educationist.
Raised by a mother who is a
retired primary school teacher, it
is Raj’s unabated quest for
excellence and for lasting and
strong human relationships that
has made him what he is.

That pursuit has been his
hallmark, be it in the long years
put in as a banking professional
or his entrepreneurial forays into
healthcare, professional business
consultancy and education.

Raj has created models of
education focused on preparing
children of group schools to be
ready for facing the challenges
of an ever-transforming global
market and world.

V.N.P. RAJ The group has been providing
high-quality education with a
futuristic outlook to common
people at an affordable cost.
Education has been Raj’s
passion. He is a much sought-
after motivational speaker too.


SASIKALA RAJ, Deputy Managing Director

SASIKALA Raj is a banking professional who brings to the business her
ample commercial acumen. She has over 25 years of experience in India
and the UAE. She manages operations and administration of schools and
nurseries. She heads the human resources functions of the entire group,
articulating balanced policy formulations and their implementation.

She has served about 13 years in various operational capacities with the
Emirates National Bank of Dubai. Prior to that, she worked in banking
operations of State Bank of India for about 10 years.

Sasikala Raj plays a crucial role in the acquisition of new schools for Athena.

HARSH SINHA, Group Executive Director

Harsh Sinha oversees Athena’s Academic Board and promotes high-quality
education in Athena. An MBA from Indian management school, Xavier’s
Labour Relations Institute (XLRI), Harsh has brought in his education
management expertise, having managed the Shri Ram School Group, which
has multiple campuses in India.

Harsh is in charge of introducing positive changes in each school by way of
infrastructure development and building capacity. He plays a key role in
introducing hardware and software systems for academic and
administrative efficiencies. He is behind all policy developments and the
creation of standard operational procedures and works with the academic
council to strengthen academics.

Dr S.M. SIVAKUMAR, Head of Group HR

Dr S.M. Sivakumar, a post-graduate in engineering and doctorate in
finance, oversees the group human resources activities.

His mission is to bring in staff for raising standards of education and for an
environment of learning excellence.

He oversees the full spectrum of HR functions — including manpower
planning, talent sourcing, performance management and appraisals, and
training and development.

JAYANTHA KUMAR, Business Development

An MBA in marketing, Jayantha Kumar has commendable expertise and
experience of about three decades in the Arabian Gulf.

His experience includes about seven years with a leading Saudi Arabian
company as manager of human resources and marketing, and 18 years as HR
and marketing director for a major group, overseeing their operations in the
Arabian Gulf Cooperation Council region.

IAN MCNIFF, Directo…r of Schools — Learning Improvement

▪ Ian McNiff has been the director of US curriculum schools such as American

International, International Academic, Al Wahda Private School, Al Resalah
International School of Science and Al Resalah American International.

▪ He brings to Athena a wealth of experience, having worked for 35 years in

government regulators and schools within the Middle East as well as the UK.
Previously, he served as director for UK schools and one of the largest school
groups in the UK.

▪ He has worked in public offices in the UK for various ministries.

Dr TIMOTHY JOHN HUGHES, Director — School Improvement

▪ Dr Timothy Hughes has spearheaded groups of schools within the Middle East

and the UK for over 30 years in positions from Principal to Chief Education Officer,
providing him the experience and knowhow to improve a school’s overall standing.

▪ A member of the Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry and member of the

Institute of Physics, he gained a distinction in his PGCE (Science) and hold the
national professionl qualification for headship.

▪ He believes that nothing is more important than education. Knowledge should not

be solely about the grades, but about all those unforgettable experiences we have
and the broader skills acquired.

CATHERINE O’ FARRELL, Head of Inclusion

▪ Catherine O’Farrel’s responsibility is to oversee the matter of inclusion across

the Athena Group, having been a leader in that sphere from Ireland to Australia.
She has spent eight years in the UAE.

▪ Her articles are regularly published in education magazines.She is a director on

the Dubai Inclusion Network. She is passionate about ensuring that every child
can reach his or her full potential in an inclusive and caring environment.

JAN HORN, Group Head — Operations

• Jan Horn leads and guides Athena operations to achieve sustainable growth and
development by ensuring efficiency, productivity and profitability.

• He is responsible for the overall efficiency and performance of the group and
ensuring all operations support an environment that optimize teaching and
learning impact for each child.

• He develops strategic plans and works with principals to translate these into
operational projects.

D• rHGe hIaHs aAlifeNlongFcRomAmDitmIe,nGt torwoarudspeduHcaetioan dand—peoCplue drerveicloupmleuntm, anad nd Assessment
has more than 25 years of experience in the education sector

• Dr Gihan Fradi has the responsibility of coordinating, implementing and
developing academic curriculum across our schools. She ensures that the various
standards and curriculum are followed in letter and spirit by all Athena schools.

• She has worked for several schools for the past 10 years, bringing to Athena a
trove of knowledge about curriculum assessment and development.


Athena’s Indian
operations are helmed by
a team led by founder
and managing director
V.N.P. RAJ, and deputy

Eminent retired diplomat and
educationist par excellence
T.P. SRINIVASAN is chief
advisor for Athena’s educational
activities in India.

Director board member SHEEJA NELLAYAPPAN
is a post-graduate in computer science with 20
years of teaching experience. A Bachelor of
Education (B.Ed) second-rank holder, she has
conducted more than 50 training programmes for
teachers, students and parents. She is also
trained in the Montessorie method of teaching. A
motivational trainer for lead publications.


WE have always been told to liberate ourselves Social grace acknowledges the evil that resides in
from unrighteousness and move in the path of our minds when we set out to create for and
righteousness. Once a person liberates the self contribute to the society. It prompts us to follow
from himself, the quality of social grace takes over Godly and righteous paths towards attaining our
him. It means one’s good traits are liberated from goals. It reminds us that when we exploit nature,
the clutches of unrighteousness. we must take care not to lose our traits of
Godliness and righteousness.
This process continues. The fight of good against
evil never ends … must never end. This focus on social grace prompted V.N.P. Raj to

Such a man loves nature found the Athena group of
and lives according to the schools. It was the same focus
laws of nature. He exploits that prompted him to found the
nature to create his own Pazhaveedu Medical Care health-
place, or a world to live in care group in India.
and follow the laws of
nature without shedding Athena’s core values, based on
blood. Man has the ability to our foundational principle of social
extract from and exploit grace, are woven into every
nature. He has the ability to academic and extra-curricular
protect nature. That’s the activity in our group schools. The
karma of man as ordained following academic values are at
by God. We call it social the core of Athena, and prescribes
grace. how a child should learn for him
to be in harmony with
righteousness and Godliness:




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cwhisilddowmh.o comes eager to school every day to dispel darkness and seek wisdom.

▪ Skills and Knowledge

To provide our children with broad-based knowledge and wisdom the supports the development of social
intelligence and skills needed for the 21st Century. Education is also about developing a holistic mindset.
As our children pursue their vision, they also develop the ability to see a host of related and unrelated
things around them. Our efforts are aimed at wholesome development of our children. Academics is just
one aspect of education.

▪ Home Values

To promote values derived from each student’s home and original culture, family and also assimilate from
the culture of the UAE. We promote a strong individual sense of self within the context of school,
community, and global society, while celebrating others’ cultural values. It’s a very important value for
children growing up in a multicultural environment.

▪ Creativity

Athena exists to foster students’ academic, innovative and problem-solving skills. Our students are
encouraged to make connections and use their imagination to explore new possibilities, with a readiness
to learn from mistakes. We believe that mistakes are intrinsic to the creative process, and the
commission of errors and the handling of errors are important in the learning process.

▪ Oneness with Nature

Promoting an understanding of, and love for, nature are very important requisites of modern learning. We
encourage outdoor learning experiences in a range of contexts that contribute to an understanding of
environmental sustainability. Our children grow up loving and enjoying nature, having an empathy and
responsibility for living creatures, and an intense sense of responsibility for their surroundings.

▪ Technological competence

We provide students the knowledge and understanding to optimize digital learning in this wired world.
They are able to acquire skills in information management, problem-solving, creativity and
communication. They learn to collaborate profitable with the world outside, using tools of technology.


A friendly, vibrant, community-minded AL QUOZ 4, DUBAI
school, with children at the centre. A
tranquil haven in a bustling city, with ▪ BRITISH CURRICULUM —
family values at our core. We promote
creativity, confidence, commitment and FS1 to Year 6
citizenship for everyone. We foster a
culture of collaboration and leadership at ▪ Problem solving
all levels providing opportunities for pupil ▪ Critical thinking
voice, parent voice and staff voice. ▪ Resilience and


AL GARHOUD, DUBAI A creative environment that aims
to instill in students a set of
• BRITISH CURRICULUM — positive attributes, skills and
FS2 to Year 12
values. The school empowers the
• Leading through innovation child to make informed choices,
• Tradition meets modernity grow in self confidence and fulfil
• Rated good by KHDA for their academic potential through
innovative practices.
student personal and social


AL QUSAIS 1, DUBAI American International is committed to
developing children to their full potential
• AMERICAN CURRICULUM — academically and socially, ensuring they
KG to Grade 12 grow up as global citizens. The prime
focus of the educational team is to
• Student centered environment prepare students to be culturally aware,
• Student personal and social collaborative and effective problem-
solvers through a digitally-optimized
development rated ‘Good to learning environment.
Outstanding’ by KHDA
• Excellent educational
leadership team

International Academic School enforces AL WARQA 1, DUBAI
continuous efforts to develop future
generations and to prepare them for the • AMERICAN CURRICULUM — KG
challenges of the 21st Century. The to Grade 12
global, multicultural environment of the
school community provides a valuable • Nurturing children to become
model for students and encourages independent and active learners
recognition and respect of other nations,
cultures and differences. • Established child protection
processes including cyber safety

• Professional senior leadership


Al Sadiq provides a UK-based education AL QUSAIS, DUBAI
underpinned with Islamic principles and
values. The school provides a secure • BRITISH CURRICULUM — FS to
and supportive environment that Year 12
nurtures learning and understanding.
Students are given a platform to focus • Started in 1989
on personal development and learn to • KHDA rating of ‘GOOD’ for
improve themselves to reach their final
goal of excellence. Islamic education and
personality development
• Experienced and professional
leadership team

AL QARAYEN 3, SHARJAH The leading American curriculum school
houses the highest technology to
• AMERICAN CURRICULUM — KG complement the educational journey of
to Grade 12 our children. The school is National
Curriculum Authority (NCA) accredited,
• Student-centered programs as it satisfies all quality requirements
• Digital-based education that are based on the NCA’s modern
• Experienced and professional and globally-recognized standards.

leadership team


AL AZRA, SHARJAH The school ensures that the curriculum
is developmentally appropriate, student-
• AMERICAN CURRICULUM — KG centered, resource-plentiful and
to Grade 12 reflective. As a result, the students are
thoroughly equipped with the necessary
• Established in 2003 skills and guidance to assume their role
• State-of-the-art tech facilities as productive citizens in the local,
• Accredited internationally by regional and global community.

AdvancED and locally by UAE
Ministry of Education

Al Resalah American International RAHMANIA-6, SHARJAH
School exists to provide our students
with a unique educational experience, • AMERICAN CURRICULUM — KG
inspiring passion for learning and to Grade 12
challenging students to reach and
maximise their academic and social • A unique educational experience
potential. Our curriculum is designed • State-of-the-art tech facilities
to prepare students for college and • Accredited internationally by
career readiness, and to enhance and
advance our teaching practices to AdvancED and locally by UAE
provide students a quality American Ministry of Education
education with Islamic values.


AL MUWAILIH, SHARJAH Al Zuhour Private School, the latest
addition to the Athena stable, offers
• AMERICAN CURRICULUM — KG affordable quality education to more
to Grade 12 than 3,000 students off various
nationalities, mainly UAE nationals and
• Students maintain cultural Arab expatriates. An American
identity while following quality curriculum education that aims at
international education creating a community of empowered
students in an atmosphere of mutual
• School established in 1995 respect and trust is what Al Zuhour
• AdvancED certified aims at. We inspire and challenge
every student to learn, grow and
accomplish academic and social goals.

Promoting a culture of ambition and AL SUWEIHAT, SHARJAH
achievement, we raise aspirations, Suweihat has a stimulating and happy
while enabling children to be literate environment to bring up children to
and numerate with skills for learning thrive emotionally, cognitively and
and life. Challenging, stimulating and socially. The child learns to be
high-quality learning experiences. independent and to treat other
cultures and religions with respect.
• Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)
curriculum • American Curriculum
• Focus on diversity and equality
• Promote local culture, faith and ethos • Healthy and active lifestyle
• Nurture individuality and acceptance • Strong Core Values

of others
• Learning through heuristic play



CHEMPAKA Kindergarten was founded in 1984 with the objective of developing a holistic approach to
pre-school education. Athena found synergy with Chempaka and acquired the group in the second quarter
of 2019.

With ten branches around Trivandrum city, Chempaka has grown to become a reputed name in quality
education. Having proven highly successful with numerous little preschoolers over the years, the
“Chempaka Way” has now been extended to include all levels of schooling.

Through constant evaluation and innovation, Chempaka maintains a dynamic curriculum, responding to
the needs of the individual child. The curriculum takes into account the child's holistic development.
Practical experience & learning through indoors & outdoors activities form an important part of life at
Chempaka. Music, dance & drama, picnics and nature walks are routine.



L'ecole Chempaka Silver Rocks is a premier L'ecole Chempaka Serene Valley is a premier
higher secondary institution based at Edavacode, higher secondary educational institution at
Sreekariyam, Thiruvanthapuram. Started in Edavacode, Thiruvanthapuram. Started in 1998,
1998, L'ecole Chempaka offers the ISC and ICSE L'ecole Chempaka offers the ISC and ICSE
streams, being affiliated to the Council for Indian streams, being affiliated to the Council for Indian
Schools Certificate Examinations, New Delhi. Schools Certificate Examinations, New Delhi.

The ICSE results have been outstanding so far The ICSE results have been outstanding so far
with students securing First Classes and with students securing First Classes and
Distinctions. ISC Plus Two classes were also Distinctions. ISC Plus Two classes were also
started in June 2011. started in June 2011.


At L'ecole Chempaka International, we offer the With wide recognition from higher educational
Cambridge courses the Chempaka Way. We institutions in India and across the world, the
have enriched our school with cross-curricular Cambridge IGCSE and A Level Courses offer our
perspectives and support modern curriculum students a wide range of opportunities.
development, while setting standards which are
recognized worldwide. We encourage innovative The Cambridge IGCSE programme is offered in
modes of teaching. Grades VII - X and A Levels in Grades XI - XII.


LEARNING FROM NATURE: A composite picture (above left) show a regular activity in Oaktree Primary School, Al Quoz,
Dubai, representing Athena’s commitment to help children grow and learn by observing, discovering, appreciating,
experimenting with and nurturing nature. Athena’s Green House initiative helps our schools to extend the boundaries and
scope of the formal education system. It encourages creativity, enhances awareness levels and inspires our students to
partake in creating a sustainable environment. Pictures above right and below show greening activities going on in the
Athena’s L’école Chempaka in Thiruvananthapuram, India. (Please see overleaf for more details.)


ATHENA is out to create a green footprint. OUR organic gardening techniques have
brought an abundance of harvests of plants be
Our Green Houses and Open Gardens it cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes, broccolis,
initiative provide dynamic environments and capsicums, or a variety of herbs.
opportunities in which our students observe,
discover, experiment, nurture, and learn. It’s a The vertical gardening concept has meant the
wonderful way to teach young minds green houses take minimum space to foster a
environmental stewardship, gardening itself green environment. We have adopted the
provides an atmosphere for students to catch hydroponics way of growing plants with the
on to 21st century learning skills. It builds help of running water and minerals, kindling
curiosity in new areas and creates awareness of an innovative spirit among our students.
the importance of nature.
The green initiative has been integrated
Athena’s green initiative helps our schools to across all grades in the schools, and across
extend the boundaries and scope of the formal science and cross-curricular activities:
educational system by encouraging creativity and
enhancing the awareness levels of our students to ▪ Physical sciences of Anatomy & Nomenclature
take constructive action for a sustainable living ▪ Numerical sciences of counting, measuring
and business
It all started in 2013, when Al Sadiq Islamic English
School abandoned itself to the enjoyment of ▪ Exploring science of investigation, research,
gardening, starting with a small patch of grassland.
The school then worked its way to building a Green innovation and creativity
▪ Personality development through problem
USING gardening as an essential teaching tool in
schools have had a profound impact of giving children solving, pragmatism and proactiveness.
the skills they need to reach their full potential in life.
Our experience has showed that the hands-on ▪ Teamwork, collaboration, communication and
approach has made our students more active and
flexible thinkers who are better able to meet life’s wellness.
challenges—from the classroom to practical situations.
From inspiring a lifelong love of learning to helping
Besides Al Sadiq, going the green way are five more improve health, our review and response record a
UAE schools—Grammar School, Oak Tree Primary and positive impact of gardening on childhood
American International School, all in Dubai, and Al development. Hear what our students say:
Wahda Private and Al Resalah School of Sciences, both
in Sharjah. Our schools and nurseries in India also give ▪ We’re not just learning how to go green. We
great importance to gardening and greening.
can do it, we’re doing it.

▪ I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I

do and I understand.

▪ We’re turning over a new leaf into a tidy profit

Athena is committed to taking several steps over the
coming years to champion the importance of
gardening in schools.




ATHENA is set to launch a teacher's managing centre effectively. Meera
professional development arm focusing on Educational Service will be having an active
developing quality educators, who will student support and services department to
develop future citizens in line with the UAE support teachers with the digital and physical
vision for future. library, and a teacher coach to support the
growth and development of teachers.
Named the Meera Educational Service, it
The force behind the creation of Meera is a
will primarily focus on developing and vision to be an outstanding education provider
with a global footprint. We are driven by an
delivering mandatory professional explicit aim to provide quality learning for
children in a sustainable, healthy and safe
development program for teachers on the education environment.

curriculum suggested by the UAE’s It is the questioning mind that is the catalyst
for creativity, innovation and improvement in
Knowledge and Human Development human society. We believe in the ability of
every young mind to explore and discover as it
Authority (KHDA). is this that brings into full fruition the person
they truly are. We strive to bring a learning
Apart from the mandatory professional independence, an inner sense of discipline and
development programmes, Meera will focus an excitement in learning through our schools
on imparting training in classroom to each child.
management, assessment, innovation, and

We will recruit an adequate number of
trainers and administrative staff to support
the delivery of the training programmes and

“A guru is born inALWAYS ABUZZ …
the heart of a child.”

— V.N.P. RAJ, founder of Athena

Al Garhoud, Dubai, UAE
Email: [email protected] KINDERGARTENS

Athena Education has a vision of being an outstanding education provider with a global
footprint and impact. We are driven by an explicit aim to provide quality learning for all

students in a sustainable, healthy and safe environment. Athena learners will be
independent, confident, always curious, creative, innovative, technology-literate and
socially responsible. They will make a positive contribution to their school, the UAE and
global community. It is such a vision that has led to Athena charting a prodigious growth in
its four years of existence in the UAE and India. We are determined to follow that vision as

we aim to be a global provider of education, based in the UAE.

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