Archive for the ‘Empower’ Category

Teaching Tech Skills

Life without technology is unfathomable in the 21st century. Children in urban areas have plentiful access to various digital devices. The school and home environment also provide time, instruction and knowledge about technology. This is not the case in rural areas. While mobile phone reach has penetrated many rural areas, children are not well versed in understanding technology well enough in order to use it as a skill in their lives and careers.

Therefore, RDF has made a lot of effort in raising funds and through individual and corporate partnership, in order to set up fully functional computer labs in each school. Kalleda School has a well planned timetable that allows children to learn and practice computer skills before, during and after school! Children learn how to the MS Suite applications such as Word, Excel and Powerpoint. They learn typing skills and also MS Paint. Since the labs are equipped with internet access, the children learn to browse the net to access information for their homework and related school projects. The kids really look forward to their computer classes as it opens up a whole new world of information for them. Several RDF students have gain enough technical skill and expertise in order to obtain jobs in the field.

The main challenge remains power outages, so the school has inverters to maintain regular power supply.  The students and parents are very appreciative of RDF’s effort in developing the infrastructure in the schools in order to equip the students with such essential 21st century skills!

 

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Empowered Student Leaders

Rural underprivileged children studying in RDF schools are not just given academic instruction in order to pass exams, so that they may get jobs in the future.  There is cognizance of the fact that they need more than their marksheet in order to do well in their life and prospective careers. Therefore, their all round development is nurtured carefully by the staff and management in each school.

Leadership skills are an area that is developed through assigning activities specific to the students. In Matendla School, the Head Boy, Head Girl, Assistant Head Boy and Assistant Head Girl conducted a meeting for students of Class 6 to 10, in the presence of the High School teachers, Assistant Headmaster and Headmaster of the school. The purpose was to understand things that are going well and challenges being faced by the students in school. The Head Boy and Head Girl gathered information from each Class Leader and presented the information to the staff and management. The students freely expressed their views and opinions and with suggestions from teachers and in-charges, they formulated a plan of action to improve academic input and output, discipline and school neatness.

The student leaders take on the onus of such tasks seriously and take a tremendous level of responsibility in planning and executing their tasks. It is also great to see students and teachers freely discussing values and what’s the best course of action for the students and the school. There are many such areas through which the school promotes a sense of leadership and responsibility among students. Good leaders take responsibility and work towards finding solutions to challenges, disseminate facts and information clearly and work as a team. These are life skills that are essential to living in today’s world.

The school in-charges recognise how crucial these skills are and help students to develop themselves, in order to prepare them for their future. This level of educating them and engaging with them in various activities eventually empowers them to take charge of their lives. It’s an invaluable skill that cannot be learnt through academic work only. We are very proud of the empowered community of teachers and students – empowered citizens  that we are building in each RDF school!

Community Care for the Children

In this digital era, the ramifications of being in an interconnected, digital world are not confined to just urban children. It easily reaches rural children too as technology has penetrated all parts of India. Therefore, it is not unusual, even in rural India to find children spending time on their cell phones, browsing the internet, spending time on Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter or watch serials on television. The hold of such digital media and content is so strong that it has been creating concern among parents and educational institutions, as students spend more time in the digital world than the real world.

A discussion with teachers & parents

The team at the RDF VAPV Junior College also had similar concerns. They decided to enlist the support of the parents and also spoke to the students to come up with ways through which students also focused on their education, rather than whiling away time on their phones and the internet. The college now send the homework requirements and project work via SMS to each parent. They are also informed if the student is absent, especially an absence of 3 days or more. They also exhorted parents to participate more in their children’s lives and take an interest in what they are doing.

Getting suggestions from parents & students

These initiatives have led to parent’s paying more attention to their children, helping them with their projects and homework, which is having a positive effect on their attitude and their academics too! The lecturers are also spending time engaging more deeply with the children, discussing education, life skills, careers and handling challenges in life. Undertaking such social responsibility together is what makes the RDF environment a dynamic one!

The parent community feels very motivated at the support and care that their children are receiving from the Junior College. Since all RDF institutions believe in transparency of processes, they also feel free to offer suggestions to the college management in handling everyday challenges. This is an empowered community at its best!

The Joy of Learning

Children crammed into a classroom for 7 to 8 hours a day, memorizing their lessons is not exactly a picture of fun filled and joyous learning, is it? Imagine active and exuberant 4 to 5 year olds being made to sit or stand for hours on end. Young children have a natural curiosity to explore, to play and to run around. Many schools cannot provide an environment conducive to the natural nature of young children. But the RDF environment is very different!

RDF recognizes the natural drive and ability of young children, so the teachers are trained to work with these natural abilities in order to help them learn. This method of ‘activity based learning’ or ‘playway’ method has created fun filled classrooms for RDF’s young learners.

In Redlawada School, kids learn English and rhymes through songs and stories. Toys and other playthings become characters in a short play or story; the teacher and children together weave a wonderful story, adding songs and rhymes to bring the story to life. Rhymes are learnt with actions, music or play and games too! When kids are having so much fun, time just flies!

These activity based methods have been proven to show that children can retain content easily. Instead of making them undergo the stress of memorizing, having fun and play makes them retain what they need to learn effortlessly! Parents too are happy to see their children learn new things and develop themselves in this manner. The teachers too feel creative and engaged with such teaching methods.

We are very proud of the efforts of our teachers who take the time to creative engaging and meaningful lessons for these young kids, keeping their needs in mind. We admire their own playfulness and patience! As always, it’s always lovely to see the smiling, happy faces of the little ones!

A Special Birthday

Birthdays are typically days of celebration for children, who look forward to being with friends and family and receiving blessings and gifts from their families.

However, when Kanikonda Akhil, a student of Rollakal School, turned 14 years old recently, he decided to do something different. Concerned about the environment and inspired by the efforts being made in all RDF schools to bring awareness about environment conservation, Akhil decided to plant a sapling in his school on his birthday. He also gave a speech on his birthday, urging everyone to do something concrete that will help the environment.

The students and teachers appreciated his gesture and many students took a pledge to plant a sapling on their birthday too! Even the teachers were inspired by his thoughtfulness and they too decided to follow suit and plant a sapling on their birthday! Everyone agreed that contributing to protecting the environment was a much better way to celebrate a birthday and this planet too, rather than spending money on buying a cake and chocolates.

We are very touched by Akhil’s concern for the environment and are very proud that he took inspiration from RDF’s Social Awareness Programs and felt empowered to make his birthday a unique event for everyone. These are the waves of changes from the next generation that we see being birthed through RDF students’ inspiring actions!

Ray of Hope

Getting an education is a primary fundamental right that every child is entitled to. However, it is also a reality that many parents from economically deprived backgrounds stuggle to pay fees and other expenses in private schools. Government schools aren’t seen as a viable option for many families who aspire to provide good education to their children. So they are despairing of how to continue to provide for their families and their children’s education.

Arun, studying in class

Arun, happy at play!

Arun’s family was very dejected after years of struggling to make ends meet and send him to a private school. Arun, 9 years old, is a bright boy, with big dreams of becoming a scientist. But with financial resources sapped, his father, the only earning member as a door to door salesman, didn’t know how to continue providing for Arun’s education. In a similar story, Shashank, 8 years old, another young boy from Bahadurapally village who wants to become a sportsperson, also had parents who were on the verge of pulliing him out of school due to their inability to pay his private school fees. Shashank’s father is a shopkeeper with a meager income and feeding the family was more important. In such financially challenged circumstances, both families couldn’t see a ray of hope.

Shashank, happily studying

But there was a silver lining in the dark cloud of their life circumstances. Both boys got admission in the Mandal Parishad High School, Bahadurapally, supported jointly by Tech Mahindra Foundation and RDF. Arun got admission via the Telangana Government’s Day cum Residential scheme, but securing top marks in the entrance exam, while Shashank got admission directly. The ‘School Quality Improvement Program’ that has been in place for 3 years means that the school receives the best inputs in terms of teacher training, resource development and sound education management practices.

Now both boys get free education, free textbooks, notebooks, uniforms, stationery and school lunch of the highest quality. Arun, a studious boy, pays meticulous attention to his studies and finally free from the financial stress of education, now plays happily with his friends in school. He can finally see his dream becoming a reality in the future. Shashank, a natural athlete, shines with the sports infrastructure and training available in the school. Both boys are blossoming under the care and encouragement of their teachers, utilizing the rich academic and extra curricular resources available and doing well.

Both boys and their families are very grateful to TMF and RDF for their efforts in developing the school, providing their children and many others a quality of education that they deserve. Many families like Arun’s and Shashank’s breathe a quiet sigh of relief that some of their financial woes are over and more importantly, that their children’s future is in able hands.

Yoga for Life!

RDF cares about all its students’ overall health and life, not just their academic progress. The foundation for RDF’s work is the holistic development of the children, with a focus on developing them physically, mentally and emotionally. Yoga has been an important cornerstone in creating this kind of strong foundation in children’s lives.

Teachers from Yoga Vahini, Hyderabad, visited Matendla School and conducted a yoga training session for students and teachers. They learnt important asanas and pranayamas to help with balance, harmony, focus and building flexibility. Together, they discussed the main problem areas that occur in their lives and gave them specific asanas to do. Students and teachers felt strong and fresh after the session and noted that yoga helps them in their work, studies and everyday life in positive ways.

Slowly and surely, with yoga being such an intrinsic part of everyday life in RDF schools, even reluctant ones have been coming around and trying their hand at yoga. Over the years, students who have become proficient in yoga are taken for District and State level yoga meets, where RDF children perform very well. They have also become yoga ambassadors in their communities, strongly encouraging them to take up yoga, being proof of the benefits that it brings to their lives! Isn’t this what Educating, Engaging and Empowering is all about? 🙂