Archive for October, 2018

Turnaround Time!

We have been witnessing the power of community in the Tech Mahindra sponsored ZPH and MPP schools. This has taken time, but the school team has work very hard with the vision that becoming a beacon of quality education in Bahadurapally and creating an atmosphere of trust was absolutely essential. With mentoring from the RDF and TMF team, they understood that a good school is not just one that has a list of academic toppers; the environment in school also needs to be conducive to growth and development of students and teachers. With this vision, a lot of time and effort has been invested in training teachers in not just improving their academic and teaching competencies, but also in child psychology and maintaining a high level of engagement with parents and locals.

With this foundation of care and trust, we have witness several turnaround stories from children who, perhaps, would have been given up on in another environment or school. Sainath, a Class 3 student was extremely quiet when he joined the school. He did not mingle with his classmates and hence did not make any friends. His individual work was quite good – he had good reading and writing skills and had a lot of interest in sports and art. So what was ailing Sainath?

Teachers realised that he had an inferiority complex, brought on due to fear of authority figures, namely his parents and previous teachers. In such a situation, forcing a child doesn’t bring any result. He needed to overcome his fear of authority, relax and mingle. So the teachers just let him be. They observed him from a distance, never interfering with his activities and encouraging him when he needed a hand. Their mantra was ‘no pressure’ Slowly, he began to open up – trust that had been lacking earlier was built. He started mingling with his classmates, helping them with classwork and homework! His transformation filled everyone with joy!He was also nominated as a class leader! What a difference an atmosphere of gentle care created in the now quietly confident Sainath!

Harshitha is a Class 10 student who is good at studies and actively plays Kabaddi and Kho-Kho; she’s also friendly and ambitious. One day, she fell seriously ill, complaining of severe stomach ache. Writhing in pain and unable to speak, the HM desperately tried to contact her father and mother, a driver and daily wage worker respectively, to no avail. Needing urgent attention, the HM eventually sent her to hospital with 2 teachers and ensured that she received good medical care. It turned out that her habit of eating slate pencils had created this issue! With the doctors and teachers’ strict advice, she swore to get rid of her habit. Her parents were also counselled to pay close attention to her as they had not paid close attention to her poor appetite. She has now fully recovered and has not eaten a slate pencil since this scare!

We commend the teachers and the school management for taking such good care of the children, being truly interested in their wellbeing and counselling the parents when needed. We absolutely love seeing children blossom in this environment!

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Saying bye to plastic!

Plastic is everywhere! It’s use has become so common that most people do not even think about using it. People are not aware of the harmful effect of plastic on the environment, on human and animals. Plastic refuse takes hundreds of years to decompose and is toxic. Kalleda High School children were getting perturbed by the use of plastic in their school and junior college premises. Since RDF institutions pride themselves on being green and building environmentally sound practices, the students decided that plastic use had to end!

With that determination, the students started with discussing this with the non teaching staff. They showed them alternatives to plastic such as using paper, cloth or jute bags. They also recommended that they carry their own cloth bags and saying ‘no’ to plastic or polythene bags that are unthinkingly handed over in shops. The discussion led to a life changing decision for everyone present – the  non teaching staff made a vow to stop using plastic in their homes and at work and together they made a vow to make the school plastic free!

We are thrilled with the motivation that these young students were able to provide and take it a step further by banning plastic in all forms in their school! We are sure that this energy will provide them with the momentum to make positive changes in their villages too. After all, big change starts with small changes at the individual level. We hope this becomes a community effort to make our rural communities environmentally safe and plastic free!

Fruitful partnerships and efforts..

Our vibrant community of education and financial partners strive hard to support the skilling and development of our schools and providing tons of inspiration to the children in the process! Infor has been supporting RDF for over 10 years. Rollakal School stands today due to the fundraising efforts by the Infor management and employees who donated sufficient funds that enabled us to construct a permanent school building in Rollakal village. Over the years, their employees have also conducted workshops and talks on skills such as English language development, technology and career guidance.

Last month, Infor employees visited Redlawada School for a green initiative. They planted 140 saplings that consisted of 100 coconut trees, 20 flowering trees and 20 fruit bearing plants! The plantation drive showed the students the value of social service and conserving the environment. Though rural areas are still green compared to urban areas, planting more sapling will go towards making the area even more lush!

Another special initiative that was taken was to ‘name’ all the plants on the names of the Infor employees and RDF team. Together, they decided that birthdays would be commemorated through remembering the person who planted the specific tree! It was a sweet thought that everyone was delighted with! Several parents also visited the school on the occasion and it reiterated the importance of developing social responsibilities in their children, in addition to their academic development. The parent community that strongly supports RDF schools was also happy to meet the visitors and blessed the green efforts.

The day was literally fruitful and everyone went home with a sense of satisfaction and pride in their school and our partners.

Education World Ranking

The RDF family is over the moon with the announcement of the Education World Rankings with the 4 RDF schools winning awards in the ‘Best Co-Ed Day School’ category! For rural schools to be recognized for their efforts in quality education is very gratifying!

Rollakal School got a score of 900 out of 1500, with a national ranking of 242 out of 1000 schools, ranked 35 at the State level and 1st rank at the District level! We couldn’t be prouder of the school’s achievement, starting so humbly in a semi permanent structure a little over a decade ago and look how far they’ve come!

We have to commend the school team for taking our Vision of Educate, Engage and Empower and implementing it at the grassroot level. They have put in tireless efforts to develop the quality and scope of education, both inside and outside the classroom via teacher training, student development programmes, involvement in sports & games, participation in Mandal, District and State level competitions and exhibitions in Science and Arts,  communication and personality development workshops and developing student’s skills by involving them in school operations via student committees in areas such as Mess, Water, Discipline,m Clean & Green, Games, Library etc. Social responsibility is encouraged by undertaking community level engagement programmes. The parent community has also strengthen with their involvement in the Parent Committee and being a crucial stakeholder in school operations and supporting the development of the school’s education activities.

These are some of the parameters that have allowed Rollakal School to shine and receive this award.   We hope their light shines stronger and brighter for years to come!

A Dash towards Creativity

Adarsh had never really seen himself as an artist, though he drew well. But his school, RDF Matendla School, with its focus on holistic development of children, encourages creativity in all shapes and forms such as music, art, craft, theatre, sports, teaching activities etc. So, we can see how Adarsh was influenced by the creative spirit surrounding him.

Using waste materials and recycling them to encourage sensitivity towards the environment is another strong focus area. Adarsh meshed the two and focused on designing showpieces from discarded material at home, starting with old wedding cards. With intense focus on the creative process, he designed a stunning showpiece which occupies pride of place in the school. The idea came from him and was encouraged by his teacher. To see his idea come to life really brought a leap in confidence for this quiet boy. The stunning design also inspired his peers who saw how an idea could be fleshed out to create a visually appealing design. It again brought home the point of recycling as much as we can and that everything can be put to good use!

Being the Change…

Our rural children live in the midst of greenery, at nature’s doorstep, so one might ask why they need to be taken on a field trip to appreciate nature and natural farming methods? This is because even rural areas are facing the brunt of climate change, so the teachers of the RDF VAPV Junior College thought it would be a good idea to meet some farmers who are practicing organic and natural farming and understand the repercussions of present farming systems with them.

The farmers in a small village near Kalleda were very happy to meet these students. They believe that the more people are made aware of harmful farming practices and environmental degradations, the more solutions can arise from those who want to make a change. The students, their teacher and the farmers discussed reasons for shortfall of rains, rising temperatures, usage of plastic and using chemical fertilizers and pesticides and the negative impact of this on the environments and us. The students clearly understood the reasons why change is imperative and to pave a path for future generations. They proudly explained that they never use any chemicals on the crops, using natural compost, ‘eruvulu’ instead. Food grown this way is gentler on the environment and those who consume them. Bhavani of BPC, 2nd year said, “I am glad that I learnt practical ways to switch to organic farming. It is necessary to explain this to other farmers. These farmers are getting benefits from not buying chemicals.” Her classmate, Meghna, said “I am very attracted to rice production. We can easily grow rice without using chemicals. On the dairy farm, I was happy to see healthy food being given to the animals. This healthy lifestyle is possible.”

Yes, it is, with the support of farmers and young people like Meghna and Bhavani and our other students. The students are now making plans on how to speak to farmers within their communities to make them aware of healthier ways to farm and assist with their transition!