Archive for October, 2017

Ray of Hope

Getting an education is a primary fundamental right that every child is entitled to. However, it is also a reality that many parents from economically deprived backgrounds stuggle to pay fees and other expenses in private schools. Government schools aren’t seen as a viable option for many families who aspire to provide good education to their children. So they are despairing of how to continue to provide for their families and their children’s education.

Arun, studying in class

Arun, happy at play!

Arun’s family was very dejected after years of struggling to make ends meet and send him to a private school. Arun, 9 years old, is a bright boy, with big dreams of becoming a scientist. But with financial resources sapped, his father, the only earning member as a door to door salesman, didn’t know how to continue providing for Arun’s education. In a similar story, Shashank, 8 years old, another young boy from Bahadurapally village who wants to become a sportsperson, also had parents who were on the verge of pulliing him out of school due to their inability to pay his private school fees. Shashank’s father is a shopkeeper with a meager income and feeding the family was more important. In such financially challenged circumstances, both families couldn’t see a ray of hope.

Shashank, happily studying

But there was a silver lining in the dark cloud of their life circumstances. Both boys got admission in the Mandal Parishad High School, Bahadurapally, supported jointly by Tech Mahindra Foundation and RDF. Arun got admission via the Telangana Government’s Day cum Residential scheme, but securing top marks in the entrance exam, while Shashank got admission directly. The ‘School Quality Improvement Program’ that has been in place for 3 years means that the school receives the best inputs in terms of teacher training, resource development and sound education management practices.

Now both boys get free education, free textbooks, notebooks, uniforms, stationery and school lunch of the highest quality. Arun, a studious boy, pays meticulous attention to his studies and finally free from the financial stress of education, now plays happily with his friends in school. He can finally see his dream becoming a reality in the future. Shashank, a natural athlete, shines with the sports infrastructure and training available in the school. Both boys are blossoming under the care and encouragement of their teachers, utilizing the rich academic and extra curricular resources available and doing well.

Both boys and their families are very grateful to TMF and RDF for their efforts in developing the school, providing their children and many others a quality of education that they deserve. Many families like Arun’s and Shashank’s breathe a quiet sigh of relief that some of their financial woes are over and more importantly, that their children’s future is in able hands.

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Yoga for Life!

RDF cares about all its students’ overall health and life, not just their academic progress. The foundation for RDF’s work is the holistic development of the children, with a focus on developing them physically, mentally and emotionally. Yoga has been an important cornerstone in creating this kind of strong foundation in children’s lives.

Teachers from Yoga Vahini, Hyderabad, visited Matendla School and conducted a yoga training session for students and teachers. They learnt important asanas and pranayamas to help with balance, harmony, focus and building flexibility. Together, they discussed the main problem areas that occur in their lives and gave them specific asanas to do. Students and teachers felt strong and fresh after the session and noted that yoga helps them in their work, studies and everyday life in positive ways.

Slowly and surely, with yoga being such an intrinsic part of everyday life in RDF schools, even reluctant ones have been coming around and trying their hand at yoga. Over the years, students who have become proficient in yoga are taken for District and State level yoga meets, where RDF children perform very well. They have also become yoga ambassadors in their communities, strongly encouraging them to take up yoga, being proof of the benefits that it brings to their lives! Isn’t this what Educating, Engaging and Empowering is all about? 🙂

Making Time for Teachers

Investing time and effort into carefully thought out training and development programs for RDF teachers has been the bedrock of RDF’s education philosophy. Kalleda School teachers have been feeling really gratified with various programs to enhance their professional teaching skills.

Visitors from the Krishnamurty Foundation

Members of the Krishnamurthy Education Foundation Trust – Mr. Kishore Khairnadh, Mrs. Kalyani Kishore, Mr. Subhash and Mrs. Anjana recently visited the school. They teachers and students enthusiastically put up their Science work and these exhibits led to animated conversations between the children and the visitors! They also spent time in Primary and High School classes, interacting with children and observing classes. They spoke at length with Class 10 students about the Board examinations and preparations for their onward educational journey.

They conducted an orientation program for teachers, giving them advice and strategies to enhance their skills. A big thank you to the Krishnamurthy Trust members for encouraging our teachers!

A demo class in progress

In another program – as part of their in-school training and development, teachers conducted demo lessons for feedback and improvement. This kind of peer sharing has worked very well for the teachers, who feel that it brings immense value to their teaching practice.

For the RDF family, it is lovely to see how selflessly the teachers support each other!

Dignity of Labour

Mentoring children to feel pride in their agricultural heritage, despite its inherent difficulties is provided parallel to a good and solid educational foundation. While the students do learn about the world beyond their village and aspire for good jobs, it is equally important for them to remain grounded in their day to day reality and support their parent’s work.

RDF children have no inhibitions working in fields alongside their parents. They usually do this during school vacations. Working in the fields allows them to recognize the intense effort that goes into growing our food. This reality stays with them even as they leave their rural life after school and venture into the world, getting jobs in towns and cities far from home. Therefore, they always remain in touch with their roots and continue to come back to their village and their school to support the community in any way they can.

On the fields, not only do they help with the actual farming, but they also look after the cattle. They are well versed with all caring for farm animals, their nourishment and medical care too! This work provides them with ample life skills – critical thinking, problem solving, and intimate knowledge of flora and fauna, that can’t be learnt from books.

We are very grateful to the teachers in all our schools who keep this spirit of pride and dignity of labour alive. This piece is dedicated to the staff and community in Redlawada School who thought of this wonderful piece!

 

Bathukamma Festivities

Nowhere are the cultural and social variations across India evident more than during her glorious festivals. The variegated practices provide a keen eye into the country’s rich history and enduring traditions.

The 10 day celebration leading to Dusshera is celebrated in multiple ways across the country. From the Kolkota Durga Pujo in the West Bengal to the Mysore Dasara in the Karnataka to the Kullu Dusshera in Himachal Pradesh in the North, to Chennai Bommai Kolu to  Navratri Mahotsav in the West, these 10 days signify Indian’s love for festivals, carrying traditions forward and being part of community celebrations. The decorations, songs, dances, food and rituals bring people from various communities together in joy. The unifying thread in the essence of the triumph of good over evil and the worship of the Mother Goddess – Durga, Lakshmi, Chamundeshwari, Kali.

 Telangana’s ode to the ‘devi’, to felicitate the divine feminine is the traditional festival of ‘Bathukamma’. It was celebrated with great revelry at Rollakal School. While everyone is aware of the festival’s cultural and religious significance, the school reiterated the fact how such festivals unite people effortlessly. The boys and girls at the school gathered the marigold and different flowers that are stacked for the Bathukamma. The women and girls of the school and the community sang devotional songs and participated with great enthusiasm. The festival ends with the Bathukamma being placed at the feet of Goddess Saraswathi.

Founder’s Visit

The Vanitha Achutha Pai Vidyalaya – RDF’s esteemed Junior College has done the RDF community proud over the years. We are deeply grateful for visionaries like the founders of the college, who wanted were committed to supporting the development of the natives of their village. Therefore when the founder, Sri Anantha Pai visited the college, the students and staff welcomed him grandly.

He praised the efforts of the management, staff and students on their academic and sports accomplishments over the years. He stated that, “Strength is Life and Weakness is Death’ – reiterating the value of hard work. He interacted with all the students, asking them about their studies and extra curricular activities.

He spent time with teachers in their respective classes, giving them advice and valuable suggestions on how to guide youth and the importance of mentoring them. He shared his views on the numerous courses available and the plentiful opportunities that students can avail of. He encouraged them, saying, “You are all young, energetic and dynamic students. Use the facilities in your college well, read well, use research skills to improve subject knowledge and improve your communication skills.”

He stressed on the importance of hard work and was shown a presentation of student’s and alumni’s achievements. He blessed the students to continue their good work and do well in life. Everyone was enthused with his warm and encouraging words. His visit definitely motivated the students to work even harder to accomplish their goals – a life free from the struggles of poverty through the power of education!