Archive for the ‘Educate’ Category

Flowers of Honour

Schools are always a bedrock of excitement on the occasion of Teachers Day, not the least for the reason of dressing up as teachers!

RDF Rollakal School, like all RDF schools also paid a fitting tribute to Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan and all its management and teachers. However, there was a lovely difference to the celebrations. A social and environmental cause was a part of the celebrations – children were asked to avoid bringing anything made with plastic. Kids are normally keen to give small tokens as gifts to their teachers, therefore, this year, they decided to only present flowers.

The kids collected many flowers and then painstakingly fashioned them into garlands and bouquets – a delight to the eyes and the environment!

The teachers were very moved by the flowery creations and their gesture.

Thank you to the staff for always guiding our children in the right direction, towards greater conscientiousness, responsibility  and honouring themselves, their community and the planet!

 

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Traditions, not Trends!

Urban areas are witnessing a revival of traditional arts, crafts and food practices. Organic bazaars are de rigeur in many parts of Hyderabad and across the country and people gleefully buy local produce, organic fruits and vegetables and traditionally prepared spices and delicacies. This is a very positive trend.

However, in rural communities, such as those that RDF works in, traditional has never been ‘trending’! Generations old practices still find their rightful place amongst families. Children grow up with mortars and pestles and stone grinders instead of expensive food processors. These traditional methods are something the villagers are proud of and hence teach these practices to the next generation. Since RDF staff also belongs to the same communities that the children belong to, discussions on culture and traditions take place very normally and within the context of their social and cultural reality. The schools also support these practices which have been proven to be more beneficial and healthy for people and the environment.

To say the least, food prepared the traditional way tastes absolutely heavenly – every urban visitor to an RDF school is testament to that fact!

Immersion in New Traditions

Vinayak Chaturthi is a huge festival across the length and breadth of India; celebrated in a multitude of ways by the ardent followers of Lord Ganesha.

In recent years, there has been widespread coverage on the damage done to river systems and other water bodies due to the immersion of POP idols. Sadly, many people continue this ritual despite the sustainable alternative of using clay being easily available. At the same time, we are happy to see many groups using clay idols to venerate Lord Ganesha.

RDF schools have been making clay idols for 10 years, including getting the larger community involved. This year, the students and staff made clay idols together and distribute these idols to villagers. The children, as in previous years, with the strong belief and desire to make sustainable changes, went around surrounding villages to motive villagers to only use clay idols.

It was amazing to see the dexterity with which the kids shaped and moulded the idols and the enthusiasm with which they approached their elders and community to become more aware and conscious citizens, rather than blindly follow rituals. They were able to convert those resistant to the idea of making such a change. Such is the power of belief and conviction for the greater good of society!

On the day of the immersion, the children sang many songs and performed traditional dances on the festive journey to immerse their idols in the local lake and tank. We have seen the positive impact these efforts have brought in the lives of staff and children – right from understanding their role in protecting the environment, to team work and rallying people to a just cause, to using their creative and artistic abilities to fashion beautiful clay idols and seeing the outcome of their positive attitude on the larger community. These real life experiences and skills cannot be learnt in a classroom – they come from engaging and empowering individuals to ‘be the change they want to see in the world’!

Backing the Backbone of India!

Major events and celebrations in schools typically involve inviting a VIP or any other esteemed individual from a high profile profession. These events are seen as opportunities for children to learn from successful individuals. Not so in RDF Kalleda School! On the occasion of the 71st Independence Day celebrations in the school, the staff invited Mr. M. Veera Reddy, a humble farmer from the village to hoist the flag. The reason? Farmers are not typically felicitated in society. More and more young people from rural areas are moving away from traditional farming, seeing it as a difficult and unstable line of work. The school wanted to give a positive message to the children about the importance of farming and the need to give farmers value and respect.

Farmer Veera Reddy was very happy to be invited to hoist the National Flag and give a speech. He gave an important message to the children: “Farmers are the backbone of India because farmers give food to society. If there are no farmers growing food, then there wouldn’t be life!” Very somber and true words indeed! He encouraged the students to work with soil and try their hand at farming too. He said that farming provided him with a lot of satisfaction, despite its inherent difficulties and challenges.

Through this gesture of inviting the farmer, the school hopes to instill strong values and ethics in children to not forget the backbone of India – agriculture. At the end of the day, what Mr. Veera Reddy informed the children was that challenges are present in every profession and that farming is not the most challenging profession; toil and hard work is required in any profession and it is the attitude to the challenges that make the difference.

We agree with him and thank Mr. Veera Reddy for humbly sharing his life experiences and message with our children.

Truly Natural Learning

Learning from the land and learning through one’s interactions with nature can feel idyllic for many city folks. At RDF schools, we feel truly blessed that children still have access to open land, farms, rich nature and her biodiversity! They learn so much through the natural resources around them.

We have written several times about the organic kitchen gardens in each RDF school, which are tended to with great care and love by RDF staff and students. These gardens, affectionately called the ‘Vegetable Farm House’ in Rollakal School, are also a wonderful learning resource for the young ones in pre-primary.  These little ones are eager to get busy in the Vegetable Farm House and they do not even wait to be ‘taught’! First, they happily plucked the ripe vegetables diligently and carefully, amazing us with their instinctive ability to be careful with the harvesting. Then they wanted to count the harvested vegetables, leading to an effortless lesson in ‘addition’. Thereafter, the teacher asked them, “How many are not good?” This led to a meticulous removal of the ones not fit for consumption and another lesson in ‘subtraction’ as well as segregating good produce from bad through working with their sense – maths, science and social science all rolled into one!!

These are activities that RDF school teachers are very proud of.  Not only does this make concepts very easy to understand, it also helps the children bond with the world around them, making it very real and contextual.

Studies in Self Exploration

The race for academic excellence and confining student ability to a marks oriented approach has been receiving a lot of flak for several years now.  Time and again, it has been shown that this puts a lot of stress on students and limits their accomplishments to academic outcomes alone. Thankfully, RDF schools understood early on that there is another approach to learning, one in which there is less emphasis on rote memorization and more on learning through various activities that engage all our senses, including appreciating that each child is  unique. We realized that learning happens best when students are engaged and having fun, rather than passively mugging up texts.

The proud actors at Synchrony Financial HQ

Redlawada School students participated in 2 interesting projects recently. Students of Class 9 & 10 were invited by Synchrony Financial, a global MNC that has been instrumental in funding and setting up English Language labs and providing Life Skills training for RDF children. They were invited for a theatrical experience by putting up a play of their choice. Agog with excitement, the children took the historical route, adapting the mega successful ‘Bahubali’ for their play! Right from collaborating on the concept, adapting it as a play, dialogue writing, selection of characters and rehearsals were managed by the children on their own, displaying a vast range of personal and lifeskills. The performance was heartfelt and won the appreciation of the Synchrony Financial team. The passion of the children really shone through, for all to see!

Back in school, another creative Mathematics project was taking shape. Middle school students got themselves into a happy knot (pun intended), taking out their scissors and measuring tapes for a hands on lesson in ‘Measurement’. Going beyond the conventional measuring lessons with boring rulers, kids were given free reign to measure anything that interested them – leading to a far more energetic and delightful class! For a subject that gives many students the jitters, it is amazing to see how injecting freedom, creativity and inspiration can take this (in)famous subject from fearsome to awesome!

Isn’t this equipping them with a sense of exploring their own talents, skills and interests very crucial to navigating today’s world? Isn’t this far more conducive to learning and giving them a sense of self – esteem, confidence and accomplishment?

Gratitude for Alumni

RDF’s alumni are its biggest champions! There is no greater credit to RDF’s philosophy and vision to educate, engage and empower poor, underprivileged rural children than when school alumni are able to follow their dreams and goals to a financially sound future and come back to pass on their learning and experience to children in our schools.

Praveen, an alumnus of RDF Matendla School, visited the school for a project to fully understand the challenges of rural education and running a school in a remote area. Currently pursuing an MBA, he spent the day talking to his former teachers about his life as an MBA student, excited to continue his learning journey, the bedrock having been provided during his formative years in the school. He deeply appreciated all the resources that were made available by RDF in such a remote and rural village as he firmly believes that these amenities and quality of teaching gave him an advantage in his higher learning.

He sat in on lessons with students from various classes and spoke to them about his experiences. He motivated them to work hard with all the resources being provided by the school in order to achieve their goals. He patiently answered all their queries about colleges, career and job skills required in today’s world.

We deeply appreciate that former students take on a level of social responsibility at such a young age in order to encourage their local community children.Despite their own challenges, they selflessly give their time, effort, skills and even financial support. We are proud of our truly empowered alumni who do not forget their roots and the bonds created with all our students that make them come back in order to encourage and inspire these young and hopeful children who dream of a life free from poverty.