Archive for April, 2019

Village Heroes, Modern Leaders

RDF alumni always champion RDF’s work. Even when they create good careers, they always come back to support us. While many aim for corporate jobs or aspire to become engineers, teachers or join the police; some really want to work at the grassroot level. Bukya Naresh and Kaku Sagar are 2 such alumni who contested in the local elections, with the former being elected as Vice Sarpanch (elected village head) in Mothya Thanda (tribal village) in Parvathagiri Mandal and the other elected as a Ward Member in Mechrajpally village.

Naresh

Naresh’s parents are farm labourers who dearly wanted their son to be educated. After completing Class 10 from a Government school, he completed his Intermediate from RDF VAPV Junior College, going on to complete his B.Com too. He was always interested in developing his village and rural communities. He has been active in helping farmers’ education about good farming practices, helping develop school to create a good education environment and in quick time has enabled Mothya to become the best ‘thanda’ in the mandal. It has good roads, good drainage system, street lights and drinking water. He has also put into place bi-monthly health camps and putting in a lot of effort to improve the quality of life for the villagers. He very humbly says, “I can do all these things only with the help of the villagers.”

Kaku Sagar

In Mechurajpally, Sagar says, “I belong to a poor family. My father is a farmer and my brother is a seasonal businessman. I dropped out of a government school because I wasn’t satisfied with my studies. Then I met Sridhar Sir, the Headmaster of Kalleda School, who inspired me to join the RDF school. Once there, I was encouraged by everyone and went on to do my intermediate from the RDF VAPV Junior College and also did B.Com and Master of Social Works from Kakatiya University. I discovered my interests and abilities in RDF and became a class leader in school as well as college. It was during my Post graduation that I was given an opportunity to coordinate a student meeting which developed my confidence & that’s when I decided to become a leader in my village, then go to the District and State level to serve the people with honesty and discipline.”

We feel confident of the future of the rural communities we work with, with being in the hands of such passionate and capable leaders like Sagar and Naresh. We are very proud that they were part of RDF and feel humbled by their gratitude towards us!

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Ushering in a New Era with a US trip!

L,R: Divya, Sumathi

We are so excited by 2 RDF students, Divya and Sumathi, of Class 10, Kalleda School, who have been selected to go to the USA for a Youth Exchange Study Programme! For the 1st time in RDF, our students have been selected for such a programme and understandably, everyone is excited!

This opportunity has been given by Synchrony Financial, that has been supporting RDF’s work for over a decade though annual summer camps, development workshops, setting up English and Computer labs in our schools and teacher development. Last year, RDF students were invited to their ‘Goals for Girls Leadership Summit Programme’ in Hyderabad that was facilitated by the Synchrony Financial USA team. Here, students learnt about life skills through the metaphor of playing football and actually learnt football to make it an experiential learning process. They learnt valuable skills like communication, teamwork, goal setting and dealing with life’s inevitable challenges through understanding the game of football – a unique experience for everyone!

During the programme, the students had to create a themed project and the 2 girls chose Recycling as their theme and made ‘Plasto Coolers’, a low cost cooling mechanism that can help rural communities during summer. The girls, looking at a real life problem thought inventively and came up with this project idea which impressed and inspired everyone. Based on this project, they were shortlisted for the US study programme and thereafter cleared 3 rounds of interviews too! Though they were nervous, they received a lot of support and encouragement from the Synchrony team and we are very grateful for that! From a pool of 40 hopefuls, for 2 rural girls to get selected is an absolute honour and a testament to their sincerity and fortitude to do well for themselves.

We wish Sumathi and Divya lots of luck for this amazing, new journey that they are embarking on. We know they will come back enriched and ready to pass on their learning to everyone!

Sustaining the Environment

RDF schools have been working with sincerity and dedication not only towards the development of its students but also finding innovative ways to build the local communities and preservation of local traditions and the environment. They take their social responsibilities very seriously and the impact is seen in the ways in which the local communities rally to offer their support to their local RDF school!

Over the years, the schools have worked hard at preserving the environment through planting and growing local organic gardens, helping farmers to move away from chemical intensive agriculture to more natural ways and sustaining local produce. Such tender, loving care towards the environment goes a long way.

The Rollakal School community planted coconut trees some years back, with the children taking responsibility for watering, fencing and weeding the larger garden. The children decided to protect nature and happily look after the young trees!The school also has a mango tree plantation which is thriving and helps to bring in a small income for the school. The non teaching staff takes care of this plantation with great dedication. The produce is sold at the local market and the income is used to provide more resources to the children. These are real and measurable ways in which the schools are also empowering themselves and striving towards sustainability!

Yehoshuva Shines!

In our everyday lives and encounters with children and educational institutions, it would be fairly common to see and hear adults being dismissive of children who don’t show abilities like their more hardworking or successful counterparts. They’re often labelled undisciplined or slow learners; such comparisons dealing a blow to their self esteem and confidence. However, RDF teachers have learnt there are often challenges in their personal lives and an inability to deal with them that often drives such behaviours. The teachers are trained to look beneath the surface, understand what’s really going on and create an approach from there.

The 2 Tech Mahindra Foundation and RDF partnership government schools in Bahadurapally have adopted such best practices from RDF schools. Take the case of Yehoshuva, a bright Class 6 student in ZPHS who was always in trouble, in school and outside too. Showing very little interest in studies or other activities at school, he was irregular, a habitual latecomer, showed little interest in wearing the proper uniform, was unkempt and behaved irresponsibility, with a tendency for angry outbursts.

His teachers gave him space to be and treating him with patience. This allowance of him to just be himself, not being compared and labelled and the encouragement given to him slowly allowed him to open up. His attitude changed and with that came an improvement in academic work.

He started coming to school regularly, with attendance improving to 90%! His anger subsided considerably and he started to interact and be nice with his classmates. Understanding how crucial validation and acknowledgement of positive improvements is in young students, the Headmaster called his parents and spoke about these changes. He was appreciated by his teachers too!

Now Yehoshuva is very engaged at school and plays khokho and kabaddi and has developed a keen interest in chess too. He is grateful to the teachers for helping and supporting him, not just academically but in his personal growth too.

Helping Hands

The feeling of community is what drives RDF’s rural schools to become beacons of excellence locally. The schools function as far beyond educational institutions and in fact, have been instrumental in creating communal networks that have helped the schools and their extended communities to thrive.The schools look upon their local communities and parent communities to make key decisions for the running of the schools. The locals, with their trust in the schools, also look at myriad ways to help in whichever way they can.

It was in this spirit that Matendla School invited Mr. Masa Yadagiri, Sarpanch (elected village head), Narayanraopet village, to the school as the Chief Guest for the distribution of the Class 10 Hall Tickets. He met with the students and offered suggestions to help them focus and write their Board exams. He was pleased the students’ performance in all areas and was impressed with the system being followed in the school. He donated a set of instruments for the school band, an initiative that was first taken by the Primary school English teacher, Mr. K. Ashok. The parents of the Class 10 students were also present and the Parent Committee Chairman, Mr. Davaraju donated examination pads to each student.

We feel immensely supported by our local communities who help support their local school for better functioning. It enables parents to also be a part of the school, thus empowering everyone to do what is best for the schools!

Going the Extra Mile for Extracurricular Activities!

For most educational institutions, extracurricular activities is seen as something outside of regular school work; academics is given greater importance. However, in RDF, we believe that learning happens when it’s fun, therefore we place a lot of emphasis on extracurricular activities too, as the achievements and successes from such activities spill over into all areas of a child’s life, which is what we would like to see!

Our extracurricular activities encompass a gamut such as art/craft, reading/writing, sports and indoor games, poetry and elocution, experiments, with a big dose of fun! Our teachers are trained to spot skills and talents in children, even if they surface in small ways because small doesn’t mean insignificant! This foundation is created right from the time the child starts in our schools. With the encouragement and care of teachers, these children become confident in themselves and their abilities which allows them to face challenges in other areas of their lives too.

In Redlawada School, the teachers spend a considerable amount of time to thoughtfully plan extracurricular activities, so the ‘extra’ effort doesn’t feel like effort! They’ve seen how the smallest of accomplishments or even acknowledgement goes a long way in building self esteem and help students focus on their goals with greater clarity. The sense of play and building interest creates a nurturing environment in the school, which everyone thrives in. Our biggest testament is that the kids enjoy coming to school and interacting with their teachers.

This holistic, whole life education is appreciated by the parent community too, who feel happy that their children are doing well, supported admirably by their dedicated teachers!