A Student’s RDF Journey

Abhilash is a Class 6 student in RDF Kalleda School who joined the school 3 years ago. Initially a student in a private school near his village, his parents chose to move him to an RDF school as they weren’t satisfied with the quality of education in the old school. Abhilash’s uncle recommended RDF. After getting to know the school, his parents shifted both their sons to Kalleda School. His father works as a RTC driver and mother is an agricultural laborer.

ks-abhilashAbhilash enjoys going to school now. He recalls not feeling happy with the teachers in his old school, who, he says, would come to class, complete the lesson and leave. He feels RDF teachers are more supportive, attentive to student’s needs and explain everything. He enjoys his time in the Voice Lab, the Computer Lab, Science Lab, Sports and the Library. Since his previous school was devoid of such facilities, he has gained a deeper appreciation of how such facilities benefit students.

Abhilash has a younger sister as well. She is a Class 4 student in a Government school. His parents are currently not in a financial position to send her to Kalleda School, but he really wants her to experience all the benefits he feels privileged to have at RDF. He also feels that his parents pay more attention to the male children in the family. He hopes that she will be able to attend an English medium school next year.

At present Abhilash uses the RTC bus to commute to school every day. In his 20-30 minute bus ride, he meets students from other schools as well. In all the other schools, the children carry lunch boxes where as in RDF; the lunch is served in school.

He wants to study well and become a police officer. He narrated a story that influenced his decision to join the police force. In Abhilash’s village, there was a robbery in one of the houses. After an investigation, the police were able to catch the thieves. The due diligence involved in the investigation and the process made a strong impression on him. In another instance, a 14 year old girl’s marriage was fixed. Due to the timely intervention of the police, the marriage was cancelled and the bride’s father was arrested.

The incidents in his village have made him realize that the police force plays a very vital role of safeguarding society and preventing crimes. This is now his career aspiration and we wish him the very best in achieving all his goals in life!

 

Community Champions

Today, we would like to celebrate the community spirit that is being created in the 2 government schools being supported by RDF and Tech Mahindra Foundation in Bahadurapally.  When the 1st RDF school was started 2 decades ago in Kalleda, an early realization was the need to build a strong relationship between the school and the local community. Thereafter, one of the key aspects of RDF’s holistic education model is its community engagement programs in which every parent is seen as a stakeholder in the school’s operations and activities.

The new water filter

The new water filter

RDF’s partnership with the 2 Tech Mahindra Foundation sponsored schools commenced only 2 years ago. RDF’s best practices were adopted by both schools, with a lot of mentoring provided by senior RDF staff. Parental involvement in the school was demonstrated in the Mandal Parishal Primary School when Mr. Swamy, the father of a Class 4 student, Veera Kumar, wanted to ensure that children have access to safe drinking water.

Bearing the cost of the filter entirely on his own, the modest Mr. Swamy bought the filter at a cost of Rs. 16,000 and donated to the school. The total project cost was Rs. 25,000. This was when the teachers and the head cook stepped up to share the remaining cost collectively. Of course, the utilization of the filter would not have been possible without the plumbing work. In a noble gesture, Mr. Michael, the father of another student, Yeshuva of Class 5, offered to do the plumbing free of cost. Thus, the school received the precious gift of a much needed water filter, with the help of the community champions!

Little children drinking clean & filtered water

Little children drinking clean & filtered water

These are the case studies that serve to demonstrate the efficacy of a good schooling system – a system that goes beyond academic work and grades. The system provides quality in education not just through its academic work, but also through the quality of its relationships. We feel very humbled and thank the parents and staff who extended their resources,  help and support to benefit every child in the school.  

 

The Will to Succeed

Born into a family of agricultural labourers, Rajesh joined RDF Redlawada School in Nursery. He has had a tremendous journey in RDF since his first days as a tiny tot of 3! Since his first shaky steps, Rajesh discovered his natural prowess at sports, particularly running. Now an avid sports person, he actively participates in various competitions. The school physical education trainer observed his athletic abilities and started training him for competitions. Since then, he has represented the school in various events.

rajesh-redlawadaIn the year 2016 alone, Rajesh has represented the school in mandal level, district level and national level student Olympics. To supplement his nutritional intake, his diet was altered by the PET teacher. He was offered milk and egg twice a day for 30 consecutive days. According to him, the diet helped him in improving his overall performance in all the events.

He made history for Redlawada School by becoming the 1st student to participate in a National Level event – the Student Olympics which was held in Vadodra, Gujarat in October 2016. With over 4000 students from across the country participating, Rajesh shone bright, with a Gold medal in Athletics. He said that participating in the meet was a joyous occasion and made him feel very proud. Prior to the event, he had seen never seen such a huge sports complex, having seen such grounds only on TV.

His favourite sportsman is PV Sindhu. He feels that her claim to fame was her game. He opined that “Today, everyone in the country knows her because of her victory in the Olympics. She also received 11 crores from different companies”. Rajesh envisions himself as the PV Sindhu of athletics. He is very excited to qualify and participate in the International Student Olympics in Nepal. Rajesh is excited about the upcoming event and seeing the mighty Himalayas and experience traveling by plane.

On the personal front, his parents are encouraging him to give his level best in Nepal. Rajesh is now popular in the village of Redlawada. This is the first time that a child from the village will be participating in an international event. He mentioned that all the other schools in the village focus entirely on education and the emphasis on sports alongside quality education is unique to RDF.

He is very glad to have the opportunities to hone his abilities and participate in sports events in India and overseas and thanks RDF for being a big part of his life! We wish him all the best for the upcoming event in Nepal.

 

Shiva’s salute to RDF!

Shiva has been with RDF Rollakal School for 8 years, having joined the school in Class 2. Shiva joined RDF Rollakal in 2nd grade. Shiva and his younger brother both study in RDF Rollakal School. He has 2 cousins who are studying in RDF Kalleda. In his opinion, the school in Kalleda is very big and beautiful. He likes the archery field and playground in Kalleda. In his own school, he is very fond of the school’s setting in a natural and green habitat and the dining hall.

ros-shivaHe enjoys coming to school every day even though it is a 1.5 km walk from the neighbouring village. In his free time, he likes to play with his friends. All his friends study in private schools. Shiva feels privileged to be in an RDF school as he says that private schools in the area do not offer lunch nor encourage sports. He says due to the high level of exposure to various educational and extracurricular activities, he has developed many skills which will help him in his future career and life. He has participated in essay competitions through the school. He has also participated in the GE summer program in Hyderabad. During the program, he attended classes in Global Edge School.

It was because of the school that he inculcated the habit of reading a newspaper. The school gets both Telugu and English news papers. The Telugu paper has local district news where as the English paper has news from all over the world. In today’s times, he feels it is important to know what is happening in the world. For example, the news of demonetization of 500/- and 1000/- rupee notes was conveyed to his parents by him. He reads the paper and shares information about any government related policy or schemes with them. His parents are both agricultural labourers and not educated. They want him to study well and can afford his higher education provided he gets a merit seat.

Since he wants to pursue Engineering, he feels that the encouragement towards reading on a wide range of topics and understanding English, as developed in the school, will help him in cracking entrance examinations in future. Another important factor for cracking exams is the knowledge of English language since the entrance exams are conducted in English. According to teachers, he is a very hard working and bright child. Given his levels of dedication and hard work, he shouldn’t find it difficult to fulfil his ambition.

We wish him all the best for future endeavours.

 

Time for Rhymes!

Speaking and communicating in English is now considered a life skill not just in India, but in most countries as it is the universal language of communication. English is a second language for a majority of Indians and in rural areas, with very limited exposure to the language, it is akin to a foreign language. This can make learning the language a difficult task, also due to language limitations in rural teachers.

ms-blog-1-rhymes-recitingHowever, it has been shown that early exposure to a new language can help children grasp a language more easily. Rhymes are a fun way for young children to learn the speaking rhythm of a language, along with intonation, repetition of sounds and words and building vocabulary. Learning rhymes and repeating its rhythms also brings in an element of play, so that learning English can feel effortless. With accomplishment in learning rhymes, children get motivated to learn more. Therefore, learning rhymes and simple poems is an integral part of the primary school curriculum in RDF schools. Trained and mentored by committed volunteers, adept in English and thereafter with the encouragement of RDF teachers, young children have been enthused about their rhyming skills and enhanced language abilities.

ms-blog-2-rhymesMatendla School conducted a rhymes reciting competition as part of the ‘Balavinodam’ programme. The competition was announced a week in advance, thus giving the children a week to prepare. The programme was open to students from LKG to Class 5. Students prepared their rhymes with the help of their English teachers and were asked to recite rhymes with rhythm and action. Students were adjudged based on performance, with 10 marks allotted to the rhyme, 5 marks for rhythm and 5 marks for action. The top two performers for each class were awarded. So while only the top two spots were awarded, commendations were given to all students, who were appreciated for their joyful participation.

 

Health Check-Up

Focus on health and hygiene is an integral part of RDF’s engagement with children. This aspect has also been implemented in the Government schools that are sponsored by the Tech Mahindra Foundation, as part of our partnership with them and the ‘School Quality Improvement Program’. Dental doctors from M.R. College visited the Government Mandal Parishad Primary School, which was conducted pro bono by the visiting doctors. Each child was checked thoroughly, with individual care instructions. The basics of oral hygiene and care were explained to the children via a presentation. The camp concluded with the distribution of dental kits that consisted of a toothbrush and toothpaste for every child.

mpps-dental-clinic-2

A Month of Festivities

A teacher & students preparing the clay Ganesha together

A teacher & students preparing the clay Ganesha together

The final quarter of the year is an exciting time for Indians with the onset of a plethora of religious festivals. Festivals are intrinsically linked with families and friends bonding over rituals and related social activities, sharing meals, gifts and participating in traditional arts and crafts that are a part of such festivals.

The Ganesha being taken for immersion

The Ganesha being taken for immersion

In Kalleda School, the children and teachers have been actively promoting the use of clay idols for several years, in order to minimize pollution in local water bodies. This year too, students and teachers prepared Lord Ganesha idols with clay. The idols were also distributed among the villagers. The Ganesh idol was erected in the central part of the school grounds and after five days of festivities, the clay idol was taken to the local lake to be immersed, with children and villagers joyfully dancing to the beat of the dhols.

A teacher & young girls preparing the Boddemma idol together

A teacher & young girls preparing the Boddemma idol together

Thereafter, the Boddemma festival was celebrated in the school. Bodemma is a festival dedicated to young girls in which they pray to the Goddess Gauri. The teachers and students prepared a clay Boddemma idol, which was then decorated with flowers, turmeric and kumkum. In the evening, there was dance and gaiety as the students were joined by other girls in the village to sing to Goddess Gauri.

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Dancing & singing around the Boddemma idol

In this way, local traditions are preserved and a sense of history and culture are inculcated in the new generation, thus still keeping culture and tradition alive in many parts of the country.