Archive for the ‘Donors & Partners’ Category

A Bright Future Beckons!

The RDF-TMF partnership is in its 4th year now and the seeds that were sown in the shape of RDF’s best practices with students and teachers, are blossoming in myriad, beautiful ways. Today we celebrate the lives and stories of some more children from the 2 partnership government schools in Bahadurapally.

Akhil, in a dance-theatre programme

Akhil Chary, now in Class 6, was reluctant to come to school when he joined 3 years back. He used to run away from school and take things from his classmates’ bags! The teachers have been trained in understanding student needs, their psychology and work in ways to get their cooperation. Plus the teachers really care about the wellbeing of their students. So, his teachers extended lots of patience towards him which helped him slowly integrate into the school. Now Akhil is known as the ‘class clown’ making everyone laugh, plus he’s talented at dancing & acting too! Sadly, he’ll be leaving the school soon, though on a happy note, because he’s cleared the Gurukula competitive exam and will be joining their hostel. He’ll be missed and we hope we can see him again soon!

Sunitha (R), at a plantation drive in her school

Sunitha has completed Class 10 from ZPHS this year, with a high GPA of 9.5! An ace student, she also became adept at computers, sports, dancing and acting; all activities that were brought in to develop students holistically. In the kitchen garden, she learnt to grow seasonal produce and took care of the mango and coconut orchards too. The school has put in the miles to develop a robust extracurricular programme for its students, with the intent of recognising and building their skills. Sunitha has learnt multiple skills and with these under her belt, learnt under the able guidance of the school staff, her future looks promising!

We wish both the absolute best that life can offer!

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Skilling for Life

A session in progress with an SF volunteer at Global Edge School

India has a startling statistic which is that it churns out the highest number of unemployable graduates each year! Rote based education, intense academic focus and little time invested in skill or vocational development is the root cause for this. Children in rural India also have it tougher than their urban counterparts due to poorer infrastructure and little done to develop teachers. However, the story in RDF schools is very different. We are cognizant of this reality of rural education, hence have put in intense effort for over 2 decades to ensure well trained staff and attending to the holistic development of the children, going beyond academic achievements.

Fully engaged!

India’s graduates need employable skills. For rural children, English is paramount, given that it’s not present in the learning environment. Communication, team building, dealing with conflict, cultural differences are other skill areas that we also pay attention to. We feel blessed that we have partners and supports who understand these constraints and customize skilling programmes for our staff and students.

Focused discussion

As part of English Communication Improvement and Personality Development programmes, our students attend a Summer Camp at Global Edge International School, Hyderabad, conducted by Synchrony Financial. This year 42 students came to Hyderabad for this camp. The children had a lot of fun with the Synchrony team who created interesting activities in English focusing on LSRW skills. They also had music and yoga classes. With so much fun and much to do, the 1 month training flew!

We are immensely grateful to the Global Edge team for not only providing the venue each year, but also providing accommodation and drinking water to the participants this year and of course, the Synchrony volunteers for caring about the future of our students and providing them with great activities to groom them for success. RDF has sustained itself for 23 years because of the committed support of such partners.

 

The Importance of Educating Girls

Times are slowly changing in rural India when girls are encouraged to go to school, remain in school and pursue their dreams. We see this happen in the RDF institutions and with RDF’s best practices firmly in place in the Tech Mahindra-RDF partnership Government schools, we are seeing similar stories emerging from these 2 schools too. We find such stories very inspiring and this gives us hope that things are moving in the right direction. While education is crucial to help regain financial independence and live lives out of poverty, girl child education is a social change taking firm root.

Jyothi

Jyothi is a Class 6 student in ZPHS who has been helping her mother who works in a canteen on daily wages, during holidays and at home, since her father passed away when she was very young. Gaining courage from her mother, who advised her to remain in school and find a good job, Jyothi has been diligent in academics and extracurricular activities. She loves quiz competitions! She’s working hard with the hope of getting a Government scholarship for her higher education.

Manisha

Manisha is a Class 9 student in the same school. Though the family is going through the recent bereavement of the loss of her father a few months ago, again, it’s her mom who has encouraged her to go to school and remain focused on her education. We see her mother’s fortitude in Manisha, as she’s getting back to life in school and pursuing studies with care and help from her teachers and peers. She also excels in sports and was awarded Rs. 1000 for Best Student by TNR Academy.

The future is bright for girls like Jyothi and Manisha and it shows the importance of having family support and an enabling environment at home. We honour their mothers and many such families who forge ahead with their goals with grace and tenacity, despite grave setbacks and challenges. When we see such inspiring change in rural communities, it gives us hope for the future of girls.

Yes for Yoga!

A high quality education with high quality teaching standards requires well trained teachers. We are very proud of our teachers who put in a lot of effort to better their teaching practice through attending teacher training sessions onsite and offsite. They do this so that the classroom environment is engaging and children learn in meaningful ways.  This then necessitates that the well being of our hardworking teachers is looked after and we do this with yoga and meditation.

Matendla School was the venue of a yoga workshop by noted yoga therapist, Ms. Kamala and Ms. Karishma, who worked closely with the teachers to teach them yoga asanas, postures and breathing techniques. The teachers took to the session with the same dedication that we see in the other training sessions they attend. The teachers report that yoga helps them feel much better physically and mentally, which in turn helps their teaching too! We are truly happy to see that most of our teachers have created a daily yoga practice and do sessions with the students too! We are also very grateful to our community of supporters who help us with our needs in so many ways.

Synchrony-sed English Development Efforts!

Learning English is remote, rural areas is a very challenging task. With Telugu being the native language and there being no usage of English in a child’s natural environment, a lot of effort is taken to implement English in RDF schools and teach it in ways that students are able to retain the new language skills that they’re learning.

We are very fortunate that the need to learn English in today’s global environment is understood by RDF’s supporters and that more effort is required to implement English in a rural school. One of our long term supporters has been Synchrony Financial who has helped us in innumerable ways for over 10 years! In order to help enhance English skills in our schools, Synchrony Financial set up an English Language lab 3 years ago in Kalleda School, equipped with computers, language software and electricity back up. This lab is changing the lives of the children and teachers through giving them access and exposure to innovative English enhancement programmes in a high quality facility!

Over the years, several employees and senior management have visited the school and most recently, the school was honoured to receive Mr. Ravi Kiran. He spent the day observing the work in the lab and was shown the lab maintenance registers. The children happily informed him on how much their English skills are improving through better grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation and sentence formation. They told him they feel less inhibited and more confident about using English.

Mr. Ravi Kiran was pleased with this progress and reported feeling good that the lab is being used effectively by the school and his interaction showed that everyone is indeed getting better at expressing themselves in English!

 

 

 

A Community of Support

RDF’s Midday Meal programme has been crucial to the physical and mental development of our rural children and the local community recognises and supports this initiative actively. The children receive a free midday meal each day of the school year which includes unlimited servings of rice, dal and a local and seasonal vegetable. 5 years back, RDF had to stop serving a daily egg with the meal due to funds shortage. However, many people have stepped forward to provide an egg during ‘Annadanam’, which allows an individual or organisation to recognise and honour an important life event.

The local, rural community, despite being farmers or small scale workers themselves, also actively helps the schools. In Rollakal School, some villagers have funded Annadanam with eggs! The Village Committee also provides a midday meal with chicken once a year. They also help by contributing to the school infrastructure and activities and doing their best to encourage students by providing smalls gifts to boost their education. This deep level of engagement is why we call ourselves the RDF Community, where stakeholders have the best interests of each other at heart and despite living humbly and coming from underprivileged backgrounds, the depth of their support and social responsibility for RDF’s progress is amazing!

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!