Archive for December, 2017

A Culture of Compassion for Agriculture

Learning from one’s local environment and community is very valuable for school children. While learning from textbooks for a curriculum is important, it is equally important for students to be able to connect textbook knowledge to real life challenges around them.

RDF children belong to financially backward, rural, agrarian communities. Most parents are either small farmers, farm labourers and cattle herders. Learning about challenges in farming is necessary for them, if they are to begin thinking of sustainable solutions – this is the vision RDF has been actualizing – by educating them about the world around them, engaging in deep and meaningful ways with the local communities and empowering them to understand the challenges and find ways to help them in various ways.

In Kalleda School, as part of a Science field trip, students  of Class 8 visited farms in their local village to understand the challenges in a farmer’s life and to observe the use of a Harvester machine. The farmers were happy to interact with the students, demonstrating how the harvester helps them save time and money. The farmers explained how it is getting difficult to retain farm labour and the economic burden of agriculture. Use of technology such as the Harvester machines is helping farmers, but they need more help to make their lives financially sustainable. They also had a productive discussion about paddy and its diseases and methods being employed to ensure good crop year on year.

The Harvester machine

Through this trip, student became much more aware of the difficulties present in eking a living through farming, awareness about how Science and Technology can help farmers and that there is still a long way to go in order to make this more productive and less cost intensive for them. We hope this reality and its inherent challenges will help our students utilize their academic and life skills learnt in RDF, to return and help our farmers – the backbone of India’s economy

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Not just Teachers!

Children studying in rural and semi rural areas face such hardship in their lives, yet their tenacity at such a tender age leaves us amazed!

Rohith, now 12 years old, was all of 2 years old when his father was killed by relatives in a property dispute. Sadly, his mother, who was pregnant, was also suspected of being involved and was sent to prison, where she gave birth to her brother. Left almost orphaned by this tragedy, he was sent to live with an uncle who sent him to a state run children’s home. After serving 7 years of her sentence, Rohith’s mother was released and was reunited with her older son. With the help of state agencies, his mother is now employed at an all women’s petrol bunk in Bahadurapally. Both he and his younger brother are in the same class in MPPS, Bahadurapally.

Working together with classmates

Studying hard in class

With this difficult start in life, both brothers were shy and quiet in all classes, rarely mingling with their classmates. His teachers provided him with a lot of support, slowly drawing him out of his shell and make friends. Slowly, with his trust building up, he began to show greater interest in his studies and sports. He especially loves to play Kho Kho and Kabaddi. He has also shown keen interest in computers and with the help of the computer teacher, Mr. Anil, he has been doing data entry and becoming adept at using computers. Since he was looked after by an Army officer at the children’s home, he now nurses an ambition to join the Army.

Diligently doing data entry

His teachers understand his background and circumstances – they see it often with children who come from deprived, underprivileged and broken homes. It’s their care and understanding of children’s psychology that allows them to build bridges and help them open up to the positives in life. They are so much more than mere teachers of academics or activities. They do so much more with the circle of care and encouragement that they give every child in the school. With his new found confidence and his faith restored in life, we pray and hope that Rohith accomplishes all his goals and lives a happy and successful life that he so richly deserves!

Creativity, Coins and Kudos!

The true spirit of education and learning is to ignite curiosity and facilitate the natural interest of children. We can never stop smiling when we see creativity, born out of interest and curiosity, unfold itself through interesting experiments and contraptions.

Vijay, building the ‘Coin Separator’

Thumma Vijay, a Class 7 student of Rollakal School, combined craft and science to make a ‘coin separator’ for the school. He had observed that carrying small change can be a little troublesome. So he fashioned a ‘set of drawers’ from thick cardboard to separate Re. 1, Rs. 2 and Rs. 5 coins! He also had the foresight to think of user comfort and stuck 3 bottle caps to pull and push the drawers! With this model, everyone saves time counting out coins and they stay safe too.

The freedom to design their own creations, either based on what they learn and understand in the classroom or from other sources of inspirations is a joy to see. We are very proud that RDF schools actively promote this spirit of freedom in all its students. The teachers receive full credit for supporting students’ learning journeys.

Now Vijay’s classmates have resolved to come up with their own ideas to create something useful for their school or their home. It’s brilliant how a simple contraption is creating this wave of inspiration for everyone.

Well done Vijay – we are very proud of your invention and look forward to more creativity from the school!

Chekumuki Champions!

Redlawada School has created history by having 3 students selected to the State Level in the Chekumuki Talent Test and Quiz Competition. RDF children have been doing quite well in these tests that are organized by the Jana Vignana Vedika (JVV) to promote scientific temper in students. However this is the 1st time that Redlawada School students have cleared the District level test! Kalleda, Rollakal and Matendla schools also received a District level award.

Neeraja, Class 8, J. Rakesh, Class 9 and P. Raju, Class 10 showed that they have what it takes to win! The parents, teachers and students at the school are delighted with this news and are now praying that they achieve success at the State Level competition too.

Participation in such interschool and competitive tests build academic skills and understanding in the students and also provides them with the necessary exposure to test their knowledge and skills outside the classroom. It bolsters their confidence, regardless of the outcome. The children have always given positive feedback after participation in such tests and other academic oriented fairs.

We wish the Redlawada team all the very best!

The Team Teaching Spirit!

RDF schools follow a unique system of evaluating the efficacy of its teaching and learning practices. Teachers from RDF schools visit another RDF school in order to observe, review and provide feedback, including sharing teaching challenges and better teaching methods. This method allows teachers from different schools to share their experiences, take advice and feedback from each other and in the process, empower themselves.

KS Senior School teacher being observed by MS team

In November, teachers from Matendla School in Siddipet district visited Kalleda School in Warangal Rural district. The Matendla team observed all classes in Primary and High School, Sports and Co-curricular activities. The observations gave them the opportunity to appreciate how the activities are being conducted in Kalleda and compare them to academic and non academic activities in Matendla School. There was also an open discussion about the gaps that were observed and how to go about mitigating them.

Primary class being observed by MS team

MS team observing a KS Computer class

This open and transparent system of internal visits and monitoring helps teachers take responsibility for their own work, share best practices and more importantly, work together towards the common goal of enriching the teaching and learning environment in all RDF schools, so that students receive the maximum benefits and impact of high quality teaching.

It also allows them to reflect together on the goals of teaching and the importance and role of the teacher in providing a rich and nurturing environment to children, such that they can learn to their best potential. We are very proud of this team spirit that exists between teachers of the 4 RDF schools and can see how this culture uplifts the teachers’ own experience and the students too!

Career Guidance

Guidance for first generation learners, who have lived and studied in rural areas, but want to work in cities, is a crucial step in preparing them for life outside their small villages. If we think preparing children for the world is a tough task, imagine the culture shock experienced by rural children!

Therefore, all RDF institutions conduct Career Guidance and Life Skills training sessions, in addition to participation in meets and field trips to other towns and Hyderabad. At the RDF VAPV Junior College, the team invited Mr. E. Muralidhar Rao, a reputed speaker, from Warangal. Mr. Rao gave a detailed talk about various courses available after Intermediate and how to apply for the best course. He also motivated the students to think about success and the qualities required to achieve success in their careers and life. “Conduct, Concentration and Commitment are the three qualities required to reach life goals and success” is the mantra he swears by.

He patiently explained to the students that problems and challenges are a part of life, but the attitude to solving those makes a big difference. How do we set goals? What do we do when we encounter problems? What strategies do we follow? These were the pertinent questions he posed and discussed with the students.

The students also asked various questions and doubts about higher education and courses most suitable for them to take up, which he clarified patiently. He also advised them to read more books and spend their time wisely and productively, rather than on phone calls, chats, Facebook and other social media. He recommended that they arm themselves with knowledge through books and awareness rather than social media.

The students listened intently to his thoughts and views and felt motivated and more confident about their future prospects. They understood that they need to be committed to their goals and work hard, if they are to get out of the poverty cycle. We thank the Junior College team for their commitment to their students’ future and arranging such inspiring sessions. We also thank Mr. Muralidhar Rao for giving his time and interacting with the students. We’re positive your guidance and wisdom will help them in innumerable ways!