Archive for August, 2018

Manisha’s Fight for Freedom

The life of many girls and women is still in the hands of others, even in the 21st century. Fortunately, the tide is turning, not just in cities but in rural parts of the country too. There are many who are now standing up for the cause of women’s emancipation and we are very fortunate to witness this often in our schools.

Manisha is a Class 10 student in the Tech Mahindra Foundation sponsored Zilla Parishad High School, which is supported by RDF for quality education interventions. Manisha is a bright girl, diligent in academics, sports and cultural activities alike. However, her father was adamant about getting her married as soon as she finished Class 9! Manisha was equally adamant about not marrying and continue with her education, including nursing dreams of joining the Police. There was a constant battle of wills at home, leaving Manisha very perturbed about her fate being decided by her father. This is when she decided to approach her teachers at school to seek counsel and help.

ZPHS teachers with Manisha’s mother

Seeking help is not a sign of weakness, but strength and we are very glad that Manisha trusted her teachers to guide her. It shows the work that has gone into forging this kind of teacher-student bond.  Mrs. Shyamala and Mrs. Priyadarshini met her parents to speak about her future. They counselled them on the importance of education and girls having independence and a career, something Manisha really wants for herself. She is hardworking and wants to use her time and talents in educating herself and working. Eventually her father relented and allowed her to complete Class 10. It’s a small victory!

This story is unfinished as Manisha wants to reach her goals which involve her parents being counselled more; so they are taking it a step at a time. We are proud that Manisha has the courage to stand up for her ambitions and even more proud that she felt empowered enough to enlist the help of her teachers and that the entire school team is supporting her! This is how communities get empowered – one person and one family at a time!

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Planting for our Planet

RDF children sure take their social responsibilities very seriously. Living in the lap of nature in rural India, the slow degradation of the green cover is intensely personal as they see it right before their eyes. Haritha Haram – Telangana Government’s flagship programme to increase the green cover in the state has been taken up enthusiastically by RDF schools. These children are eager and determined to do their bit to help their local environ and thus, the planet. Teachers and children often take nature walks and have activities and discussions on what they, as citizens can do to keep the environment alive and healthy.

Students of Classes 6 – 8 participated in the recent Haritha Haram programme by inviting the Warangal Rural collector, Mrs. Haritha and other Government officials. Together, they planted many saplings, not just in the school, but in the neighbourhood too! It was lovely to see the community spirit and effort in full swing. The children also took responsibility to care for 1 plant each.

The collector gave several suggestions on how to look after the saplings and other initiatives that can be taken to keep the environment green. The children took these messages to heart and over the next few days, were seen urging the local villagers to plant more saplings and look after the existing plants and trees in their homes and neighbourhoods! We are so proud of their sense of responsibility towards our planet and having the courage to spread positive messages, thus creating a positive impact on their communities.

The He’art’ of Drawing

The 1st language used  by humans to express their thoughts and feelings is the medium of drawing, then comes speaking and thereafter, writing. Cave paintings by our Neolithic ancestors were our 1st clues into the past and lives of early man. Similarly, when we are around young children, they take uninhibitedly to drawing and colouring, using any surface they can! Drawing is an important outlet for children who do not yet have verbal skills to communicate their thoughts and feelings.

Kalyan, engrossed in drawing

At RDF, we encourage not just the young pre-primary children to explore themselves through the creative medium of drawing, but children of all age groups are encouraged to do so. When a child draws something familiar to them they have the opportunity to think about what they know and how they feel towards the people, things and situations that they are familiar with. RDF children are provided many opportunities to develop their drawing skills.

Kalyan of Kalleda School, a student of Class 6 has truly taken to the medium of drawing! He draws pictures based on situations that he encounters in his school and personal life. His personal connect comes through in every drawing because the drawing is essentially a map of his feelings for the person/object/situation. In his drawing of a ‘farmer’, he has the opportunity to think about what he knows of farmers and farming and how he feels about farmers. Another area he has been exploring vociferously, is ‘Gods’.

Drawing & fabulous colours of Lord Hanuman

Kalyan can spends hours in deep concentration – almost meditative – when he is drawing. He finds it a very fulfilling activity and feels happy when left with his paper and pencils. All RDF schools also have a ‘Wall Magazine’ where children are encouraged to put up all artistic creations, be it drawings, articles, stories, poems etc. Other children in the school are inspired by Kalyan’s drawing and we’ve seen more kids take to it enthusiastically!

The Wall Magazine

We believe that academic pursuits can be unidimensional, if not explored alongside other pursuits that engage the body and mind, such as art, craft, music and sports etc. In fact, we have seen such creative endeavours make children confident and our teachers always promote children’s innate talents and skills. This opens up their minds to delve into professions such as photography and painting. It also creates a spirit of entrepreneurship because kids have a good sense of self and pride themselves on their abilities.

Teachers bagged it!!

It’s a unique quality when teachers put in effort in order for their students to feel at comfortable and happy in school. At RDF, we pride ourselves in creating an enriching and invigorating environment in our schools, which has come about due to our belief in a holistic and nurturing approach to education, which applies equally to teachers and students! Since the teachers feel cared for, its natural that they do the same for the students too.

A fun balancing act!

Fun in the playground

In Matendla School, teachers conducted a day full of surprise activities for the children. The only hint they gave them was to say, “Don’t bring your bags to school tomorrow!” The kids were agog with excitement! Mr. Rajireddy, a teacher in the school was put in charge to organise ‘funny games’ for Primary school. He spent several days planning and designing funny games, putting in a lot of effort! The students participated in the funny games amidst a lot of laughing, giggling and talking, which created a buzzing environment in the school!

For the High School children, the school conducted 3 different activites in Telugu, English and Maths. In Telugu and English, groups of students were given short story books, which they had to analyse and make interesting questions in an allocated time of 1 hour. Then the students had great fun posing their questions to one another. It was interesting that many students created questions that needed higher order thinking skills, rather than answers which could be easily found in the story. In the Maths round, the teachers conducted an MNS (Minimum Numerical Skills) test which was introduced by the Vandemataram Foundation. Again, the kids were very curious and solved the problems eagerly – a nice sight to see!

In this way, the team strives to create a positive impact for the children and the community. On this ‘no bag’ day, children were exposed to a variety of new information using interesting games and techniques. Every student enthusiastically participated in all the activities and they showed their prowess at problem solving and creative thinking!

Well done to all the teachers for inspiring the students to show their best and putting together a fun day of learning and play! In this way, RDF schools are always giving scope to children to learn new information and implementing it in their lives. Learning from textbooks and rote education are stifling to learning and creativity. Teachers seriously endeavour to go beyond textbooks and as an NGO, the schools are really working towards building each child’s innate interest, quality and talent!

Bala Sabha

Showing off dance skills!

Melodious singing

A ‘Bala Sabha’ – an ‘Assembly of Children’ was conducted for the very first time in RDF Rollakal School! Though RDF schools are student centric and children are empowered in their daily activities to think and speak freely through the creation of a nurturing and invigorating school environment, this event was special because it was planned and executed ENTIRELY by children! The school staff was amazed with the ease with which the event was conducted, which shows the level of responsibility, attention to detail and planning that was put into place by these young  children.

Yeah! Yoga!!

Little ones, enacting rhymes

In an ode to a democratic system of functioning, the event was performed by the children, for the children and will be now conducted on the last Saturday of each month. The first of this series was a wonderful programme that showcased children’s talent in areas such as literature, music, dance, folk songs, poetry, skits, mimicry and role plays. Even the prizes were carefully selected by the children, which were distributed by the teachers, who came forward in full support!

A captivating skit!

It was a wonderful learning experience for the children too. Many kids who had stage fear were able to handle it and express their views and feelings to the audience. Because they felt empowered, they were able to overcome their self consciousness and gave everything their very best. They put in tremendous research by reading books, newspapers, articles on the internet and magazines in order to plan their pieces for the programme. The level of enthusiasm with the reigns in their hands was phenomenal!

The success of this programme shows that children, when given the right inputs through a nurturing environment, engaged with as intelligent individuals with a diversity of interests and skills, thrive and then bring forth a sense of responsibility and creativity, such as what we saw in Rollakal School.

Alumni Give Back

RDF alumni come forward to help their former school/college and their communities in many amazing ways. It always touches our hearts to see that these students, coming from generations of economic hardship and poverty have so much to give and are so generous with their time, skills and even their hard earned money!

Vinod, at Army training camp

Vinod Kumar, an alumnus of the RDF VAPV Junior College, was a determined and bright student who was excellent at athletics. He won several medals at the District & State level, including winning ‘Best Athletic Player’ in Telangana. He is also a holder of ‘C’ certificate in NCC. He dreamt of a job where he could use his innate skills and be of service to others. His dream came true when Vinod got 2 offers while in the final year of completing his B.Sc Mathematics – one with the Army and another one with the Telangana State Police as a Police Constable. He chose the former and is now undergoing training in Maharashtra.

Rajasekhar

Vinod strongly believes that the education opportunities that he got at RDF are the reason for his success. He is so grateful for this good turn in his life that he wants others to have the same education opportunities that he did at RDF. In the spirit of giving back and paying it forward, he has promised to sponsor 50% of the education of any deserving student from an underprivileged background! This year, he will sponsor M. Rajasekhar’s education – a hard working boy from a family of labourers. To take such a vow while he’s still in training, is a testament to this young man’s strength of character!

We would like to thank our alumni and current students whose expression of thoughtfulness in a myriad ways help make their communities stronger and better!