The growth and success of rural education and schools lies in the hands of skilling rural teachers in good child centred and goal oriented teaching practices, of which an important aspect is designing high quality teaching learning materials. These teaching learning materials need to be low cost in order for teachers to get trained with new information and knowledge easily and effectively.
Ms. Sridevi with teachers at her workshop
It is also crucial that urban educators, teaching experts and volunteers provide their time and expertise in order to help the significantly larger base of rural student population (compared to the urban student population) as it has been shown that quality teacher training can bring tremendous improvement in learning outcomes
RDF was glad to have Mrs. Sridevi onboard to train the Tech Mahindra Foundation staff on producing teaching learning materials that are easy to make and help bring out key concepts in the topics being studied. She explained the relevance of having bright posters in the classroom as visual aids to help children retain key points from a lesson.
Learning how to use blackboards effectively
She also taught how to use coloured paper and recycled paper to make easy materials such as birds, flowers, leaves, stars etc. Teachers were asked to design a poster on one theme of their choosing. The teachers made two beautiful posters on ‘Save Water and ‘Follow Traffic Rules’. Teachers also learnt how to use the blackboard creatively to teach numbers and alphabets to primary children.
Posters made by teachers
The teachers were very pleased with the wonderful session and are looking forward to putting their training to use in their classrooms.
Today, we would like to honour and appreciate the spirit and resilience of Redlawada School students, S. Eswar.
How many of us pause to consider the role played by various parts of our body in allowing us to go about our daily activities with ease? We sit at computers and use phones for a better part of the day or walk, sit, stand, run, without ever having to think about our limbs.
Eswar working on a computer in the school
Eswar is afflicted with ‘dwarfism’, a condition that did cause him to feel awkward and self conscious initially. He wanted to learn to use a computer but felt shy and uncertain as he felt he would not be able to reach a computer comfortably. With the support of his classmates and teachers, who acknowledged his anxiety, and encouraged him, he began using one. With his interest in learning, he persevered and developed confidence to use a computer.
He says he didn’t really feel like he struggled since he received a lot of help. He loves being in the computer lab now, working on his computer skills. There is much to learn from real life ‘heroes’ like Eswar!
Kalleda School has been encouraging and motivating their students to help their parents at home and in farm work as this can help them take on responsibility at home and therefore allow them to be responsible citizens in the future.
Students helping a local farmer in his field
The school and students have been discussing how they can help parents at home by becoming more sensitive to the hardships their parents undergo to support their livelihood and academics.
Students helping repair taps in the school
There are several ways that students have been helping their parents – they have been helping during holidays with plantation, sowing and other field work; helping in household chores such as cleaning, cooking and fetching water as well as cultivating a kitchen garden in their homes. They have also been motivated to help by keeping their rooms clean and keeping their books and other things in an orderly manner at home. At school too, they are being encouraged to maintain their classrooms and common areas.
The children are already aware of the sacrifices being made by their parents. Discussing this with peers allows them to motivate each other and develop more discipline and attention towards responsibilities they can take up at home and help their parents.
Children in rural areas go to schools and aspire to get well paid jobs in cities. The economic hardship faced by their families whose mainstay is farming or daily wage work, makes this a natural aspiration. At the same time, families continue to engage in farming as they have for generations. Therefore, a key focus area for RDF is to instill respect towards agriculture and farming in our children.
Students with the school Headmaster, discussing the importance of organic plantations
All RDF schools have an organic kitchen garden which is tended by students and staff. Seasonal produce is then utilized in the kitchen for the Midday Meal Program. Matendla School has also been engaging with the local community to bring organic practices to the farms of some villagers. Together, students and locals have been working to repair soil health by moving away from chemical based fertilizers and pesticides to promote better farming methods and healthier produce.
Students & teachers at work in a farmer’s field
We hope such engagement will help some students take to farming and plant seeds for a vibrant community. Children and adults learn together to create healthier farms and communities!
Health alerts are common with the onset of the monsoons in India. With preventable diseases like dysentery, cholera and typhoid still a very real problem in rural and urban areas, exercising good hygiene habits and caution when using water is imperative.
Health and Hygiene practices are taught regularly in RDF schools. The infrastructure in all schools is upgraded regularly with financial help from RDF donors. Every school has fully functioning toilets for boys and girls. Staff undergoes consistent Health and Hygiene sessions with RDF Headoffice staff volunteers and medical practitioners. These are implemented and monitored daily by senior students and staff.
Recently, Rollakal School conducted a session on ‘Importance of Washing Hands’ for pre-primary and primary children. There was a discussion with the little ones on the importance of washing hands with soap before and after eating and when using toilets. Simple information on spread of germs and diseases through not washing hands were given.
The kids have taken the instructions seriously and remember to wash their hands when needed.
Yoga forms an intrinsic part of RDF’s activities with rural children. The holistic approach to education involves high quality academic inputs and equally importantly, a focus on other programs in the realm of sports, art, craft, social awareness, health and hygiene etc, that also develop the mind, body and spirit.
While yoga has been gaining world wide repute as a health practice that provides considerable benefits to practitioners, it has always been a part of RDF’s work with children for several years. Each school has created time in the morning that is devoted to meditation and yoga. This continues during vacation time too if schools are conducting activities for children. This is also encouraged among teachers as well, so that they start their day with a clear and calm mind. These practices have led to positive benefits among our students, with most students stating that daily yoga helps them keep calm, provides them with a fresh mind, increases focus and concentration, makes them alert, helps with stress during examinations etc.
Mr. Laxminarayana, the Physical Education Teacher at RDF Matendla School, has been at the forefront for training several students over the years to immerse themselves in daily yoga practice and has nurtured them to District and State level accolades too. He has inspired students and teachers not just in Matendla School, but in other RDF schools too, to take up the practice of yoga and experience the improvements in their physical, mental and emotional health.
On the occasion of World Yoga Day on 21st June 2016, Matendla School conducted yoga activities for the entire school. Every student and teacher participated enthusiastically. The PET led them through a full yoga session. Several asanas were demonstrated by students. He also gave a talk on the importance of yoga and maintaining a daily practice to experience the world of good that yoga offers.