Archive for the ‘Empower’ Category

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!

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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.

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!

Green Olympiad

The Green Olympiad is conducted by the Telangana Government to promote interest in environmental issues, current affairs and social causes. Students of Class 4 & 5 and Classes 6 – 10 from the Government Primary and High Schools, Bahardurapally, that are part of the RDF-Tech Mahindra Foundation partnership, participated in this event.

 

The students worked very hard for over a month, practising the questions in the prescribed format. It was great to see the effort put in by the students to prepare for this exam by researching topics from the internet, using library books and their own textbooks. The challenge level was also high as the medium was English, but that didn’t deter the students! Their hard work paid off and they were thrilled at receiving distinctions and credited their teachers and school for their performance.

Celebrating National Science Day

National  Science Day created a flurry of activity in Rollakal School! It is celebrated to mark the discovery of the Raman Effect by renowned physicist, Sir C.V. Raman. The Science teachers started the day with a commemorative ceremony, speaking about his work , especially the Raman Effect.

Students worked hard on preparing Science experiments and exhibits and proudly demonstrated their scientific knowledge. The Science teachers conducted a Quiz competition which drew great enthusiasm from the students. It was great to see them thoughtfully responding to the questions and having fun!

Overall, it was a day to understand the vital role played by Science and Technology in our lives, its importance in education and what is required to bring about innovative solutions to everyday issues, by harnessing the power of Science.

An Interactive Experience

Silver Oaks, an International school in Hyderabad has been RDF’s education partner for over 10 years! What has remained the same over this decade has been their commitment and dedication to help RDF’s rural, underprivileged children in myriad ways to help with their development and potential success in school and beyond school. What has changed is how they continually evolve their work with our school, based on what’s happening in our communities and the school and using this feedback to add to or modify their interventions. This makes their work with us very contextual for the students and teachers, something we are very grateful for!

Matendla School was honoured with a visit by 36 students and 4 staff members from the school. From our end, we wanted exposure for our students to interact with new people and feel confident to exchange their views and ideas. The Silver Oaks team observed activities such as the ‘Balamela’, ‘Marks for Sports’ and other cultural activities. Through the day, the students exchanged ideas about academics and other areas.

Both groups felt enriched by the experience as the Silver Oaks students also understood the very different life and circumstances that rural children lead and the effort being made by the school, with Silver Oaks’ support to create a rich curriculum that allows for learning to be fun and meaningful. RDF children enjoyed meeting their city counterparts and learning from them.