Archive for April, 2011

Growing leadership

Matendla student Narendra with a banana plant

Matendla Rural School student D.Narendra has developed a unique passion of taking care of plants and trees in the school premises. The second grader waters them regularly and removes weeds around plants. He has also built channels around plants and trees to direct the rain water.

Narendra, whose parents are farmers, actively cultivates vegetables in the school farm. He pays attention to new methods taught in farming classes and practices them at the school farm. His passion for gardening and farm cultivation is so high that he even visits Matendla on school holidays to maintain the plants and trees.

This has had a huge impact on his general behaviour. Narendra has 100% attendance in school, is very disciplined and his leadership qualities are getting honed. Whenever his class teacher is absent, the young boy conducts the class and maintains discipline. This has also led to improvement in his grades and he has thrice been awarded star student of the week.

Growing our lunch

Redlawada students help pick tomatoes at the school farm

The dignity of labor – and practical farming tips – are two important lessons Redlawada students learn when they work on the school farm.

The farm-grown food is used for students’ mid-day meals and any extra food is sold at the local market since the school doesn’t have storage facilities for the perishable items.

Balamani: A great role model

RDF Matendla teacher Balamani shows girls they can have a job and a husband

RDF Matendla believes in empowering girls and one of its teachers is a living example of the school’s ideals.

Balamani began teaching at Matendla after graduating from 10th class at the same school. She is dedicated to her profession. Not only does she teach Telugu and environmental science, but she works with students outside the classroom. She is also earning her bachelor’s degree in Telugu, political science and public administration and is now teaching a demo class to the teachers in primary school.

But when Balamani recently got married, her husband told her to stop teaching. She didn’t want to but felt that she had to obey her husband’s wish.

However, she realized that this was against RDF’s ideologies. She discussed her problem with the head master who then spoke to her husband. Finally the husband gave up.

RDF Matendla School wants to set an example for the young girls at our school, and change society by empowering women. Balamani is a great role model for our students.

A traditional new year

Shruthi, Akhila and Dhanalakshmi prepare traditional foods for Ugaadi

Kalleda students recently celebrated a traditional Ugaadi festival, complete with Ugaadi pachaddi, Kankanalu and Panchanga Shravanam.

The observance is part of RDF Kalleda’s efforts to instill Indian culture and traditions in the students. As with Shankranti, Dussera, Ramzan and Christmas, children are taught the significance of each festival.

B Mamatha offering Ugaadi pachchadi

Ugaadi – which students celebrated on April 2 – heralds the beginning of a new year according to Telugu traditions. There are 60 years in the Telugu calendar and this year marks the beginning of Sri Khara Nama year.  Ugaadi is celebrated on the first day of Chaitra month according to Hindu calendar.

To mark the holiday, Kalleda students helped with decorations and culinary preparations. The food included Ugaadi pachadi, a dish prepared by mixing six different ingredients with various flavors – sweet, sour, bitter, salty and spicy. Each taste symbolizes various facets of life – happiness, sorrows, ups and downs – to  teach us how to balance these aspects for a better life.

Students narrating panchangam

Students also wore kankanalu – a sacred thread worn around the wrist – and took an oath to preserve and observe Telugu customs and traditions.

As a highlight of the day, students wore traditional clothes and recited panchangam to the audience. Panchanga Shravanam is an essential part of Ugaadi celebrations where Zodiac-based forecasts of the coming are narrated.


RDF Wadlakonda: Learning outside the classroom

Wadlakonda teachers have been visiting families in the village so they can better understand their students' lives. Here, a teacher meets with a parent who spins yarn from cotton.

In an effort to better understand their students, Wadlakonda School teachers are visiting every parent whose child or ward studies at the school. The new program started in February as teachers began visiting all 185 households.

Being aware of the villagers’ traditions, life styles and customs helps teachers build a bond with them. Every Wadlakonda teacher is participating in the unique program, where parents and teachers meet one-on-one.

Teachers meet with a parent who collects toddy.

Based on their interactions so far, teachers and parents have already come up with suggestions to improve the school community. The suggestions include:

Teachers’ suggestions to parents

  • Spend at least 1 hour with their children when they return home and understand their progress at school
  • Encourage children to attend school regularly
  • Do not punish / criticize children in front of their peers
  • Learn about their children’s school achievements and encourage them to take part in group activities

Parents’ suggestions to teachers

  • Conduct parent-teacher meetings where each parent gets to interact with the teachers individually. Currently there are parent-committee meetings where only a few parents — who act as representatives for a larger parent group — get to meet with teachers
  • Take extra care for children with slow learning capabilities
  • Take extra care for all round development of the child