Archive for the ‘English Language Development’ Category

The Spirit of Giving and Volunteering

Volunteers – their spirit of giving, their generosity of time, effort and commitment have been an integral part of RDF’s story since inception. RDF has been progressing for over two decades, not only due to financial support from organizations and individuals, but very importantly, also because of the many individuals who have volunteered their time to support RDF’s work.

Ms. Geeta Nambiar, an educationist from Chennai has volunteered with many NGOs across the world. She recently spent one month based in Matendla School, to offer her services to the students and the school team there. With English being a necessary language and skill in today’s world, she focused her efforts on working with Pre-primary and primary children and teachers to build their English communication skills. She also spent time with the villagers who asked her a very important question – “What is the use of staying for just a month? To make a difference you have to stay for a year.” She was unable to stay longer, but feels that in order to support the school and community’s development, other volunteers should try to stay longer.

She wrote a beautiful note about her stay at the school and her interactions with the local community –

Ms. Nambiar, in a teacher training session in MS

It was a privilege, indeed, to help the teachers with their English, at this school, which started under the trees, nearly 20 years ago and waited for 7 years before it got its beautiful building.
I was deeply moved to hear that every brick was handmade by the parents. These unlettered farmers and shepherds realized the value of education and later, the value of English when they requested for the change of medium.
The villagers were warm and friendly and invited me to their homes and many asked many questions. As first generation learners, educated in the Telegu  medium, the sincere, dedicated teachers truly deserve support .
The school is run with transparency, honesty and integrity and optimum utilization of resources including human resources. Discipline is strict but benevolent and the students happy, healthy, friendly and confident. Congratulations to the RDF and to the staff and students on what has been achieved in Matendla. May you go from strength to strength.”

Ms. Nambiar’s commitment created a wealth of experience for the children, teachers and the extended community. Her stay will be cherished forever in our memory and we are very grateful for her selfless support!

Mr. Kaeding’s note about the 4 schools

Another visitor to the RDF Kalleda School campus recently was Mr. Erik Kaeding, an educationist and attorney from California, USA, who has been supporting RDF’s sister NGO, the India Rural Development Fund (IRDF), for several years, through fundraising efforts and also served on the IRDF board. This was his third visit to RDF and he took the time to visit the four schools. He observed classes, interacting with teachers and students. He appreciated the training the teachers have gone through that enables them to create student friendly teaching and learning techniques that enrich the classes. He provided feedback and suggestion for improvement, including suggesting other child friendly techniques for teaching. He also took a tour of the organic farms and the school labs. He was impressed with the expansion of infrastructure in the four schools that includes more classrooms and school buses. The methodical transition to English medium and the increasing use of English in conversation and in teaching also made a positive impression on him.

Mr. Kaeding, interacting with villagers

He met several parents in each school, taking feedback on the education system and facilities at the schools. He was very happy to learn that the parents are satisfied with the facilities and the quality of education being provided and that the children are also happy and proud to be a part of RDF. He also met several alumni to discuss their careers, giving them tips about furthering their skills and ongoing learning and development on the job.

We are immensely grateful to every volunteer who supports RDF and the advice and help that they extend to the entire community. In their unique ways, the help Educate, Engage and Empower these deserving rural communities!

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Ready for Radio!

The RDF VAPV Junior College is very happy to inform that they have introduced the ‘Vanitha Pai Red FM’ – a novel concept to develop communication skills for its students.

Having fun with the in-house news announcements station!

The ability to communicate effectively in any field is generally what can help students in their careers. The goal of introducing this program is to help students to think creatively on a variety of topics of their choosing, share important news, information and messages with their peers and teachers, help with inhibitions or shyness in using English or speaking, improving general knowledge and share their own experiences, speak on current and world issues, as well as speak on philosophical and moral principles and values. Hence there is a range of themes that students can choose in order to enhance their speaking and communication skills – something that will suit everyone!

Of the students, by the students, for the students’!

Everyday, one group of students plan and execute a Red FM activity. All the students have taken to this platform enthusiastically and look forward to expressing their thoughts and ideas on a variety of topics. Red FM is run during three scheduled times during the day, outside of academic activities. It is refreshing to see students listening carefully to others’ bulletins, information and ideas.

Kudos to the Junior College team on creating this platform to help their students develop the essential life skill of good communication!

Rural Learning, Global Training!

The quality education partnership between RDF & Tech Mahindra Foundation got another feather in its cap through the achievements of it students in a local essay comptetion.

Getting to a point of competing in an event that involved not just writing in English, a language students in rural and semi rural areas have limited exposure to; but also to utilise higher level thinking skills, in order to write a comprehensive essay was no mean task. Till just as recent as 2 years back, these students would not have had the confidence or the ability to write or compete in English. The intensive efforts that have been made in this partnership, implemented with the encouragement of the RDF team and the local teachers are paying dividends!

An essay writing competition was conducted in which students of the Zilla Parishad High School and other schools in the area participated with enthusiasm.  The topic for the competition was “Global Warming“.  Children’s participation was overwhelming and the innovative ideas and knowledge about the real concern of ‘global warming’, among the children was appreciable.

The winners were presented with medals and participation certificates. In this context, the school staff and RDF voluntary staff deputed for ARISE project of the Tech Mahindra Foundation were applauded for their contribution in providing high quality education standards for the children. Here are the students who got medals with appreciation certificates –

L-R: M. Mounika – Class 9, Y. Saivarun – Class 7, T. Sunitha – Class 8

Through this partnership, it is the aim of both RDF and Tech Mahindra Foundation to provide the best facilities to children from deprived backgrounds, whose families struggle to even send their children to school. For children from remote rural and semi rural areas to research, read, think and analyse events and topics that are global in nature, is truly amazing! It just goes to show how meaningful engagement with staff and students can empower them in such leaps and bounds!

 

A Student’s RDF Journey

Abhilash is a Class 6 student in RDF Kalleda School who joined the school 3 years ago. Initially a student in a private school near his village, his parents chose to move him to an RDF school as they weren’t satisfied with the quality of education in the old school. Abhilash’s uncle recommended RDF. After getting to know the school, his parents shifted both their sons to Kalleda School. His father works as a RTC driver and mother is an agricultural laborer.

ks-abhilashAbhilash enjoys going to school now. He recalls not feeling happy with the teachers in his old school, who, he says, would come to class, complete the lesson and leave. He feels RDF teachers are more supportive, attentive to student’s needs and explain everything. He enjoys his time in the Voice Lab, the Computer Lab, Science Lab, Sports and the Library. Since his previous school was devoid of such facilities, he has gained a deeper appreciation of how such facilities benefit students.

Abhilash has a younger sister as well. She is a Class 4 student in a Government school. His parents are currently not in a financial position to send her to Kalleda School, but he really wants her to experience all the benefits he feels privileged to have at RDF. He also feels that his parents pay more attention to the male children in the family. He hopes that she will be able to attend an English medium school next year.

At present Abhilash uses the RTC bus to commute to school every day. In his 20-30 minute bus ride, he meets students from other schools as well. In all the other schools, the children carry lunch boxes where as in RDF; the lunch is served in school.

He wants to study well and become a police officer. He narrated a story that influenced his decision to join the police force. In Abhilash’s village, there was a robbery in one of the houses. After an investigation, the police were able to catch the thieves. The due diligence involved in the investigation and the process made a strong impression on him. In another instance, a 14 year old girl’s marriage was fixed. Due to the timely intervention of the police, the marriage was cancelled and the bride’s father was arrested.

The incidents in his village have made him realize that the police force plays a very vital role of safeguarding society and preventing crimes. This is now his career aspiration and we wish him the very best in achieving all his goals in life!

 

Shiva’s salute to RDF!

Shiva has been with RDF Rollakal School for 8 years, having joined the school in Class 2. Shiva joined RDF Rollakal in 2nd grade. Shiva and his younger brother both study in RDF Rollakal School. He has 2 cousins who are studying in RDF Kalleda. In his opinion, the school in Kalleda is very big and beautiful. He likes the archery field and playground in Kalleda. In his own school, he is very fond of the school’s setting in a natural and green habitat and the dining hall.

ros-shivaHe enjoys coming to school every day even though it is a 1.5 km walk from the neighbouring village. In his free time, he likes to play with his friends. All his friends study in private schools. Shiva feels privileged to be in an RDF school as he says that private schools in the area do not offer lunch nor encourage sports. He says due to the high level of exposure to various educational and extracurricular activities, he has developed many skills which will help him in his future career and life. He has participated in essay competitions through the school. He has also participated in the GE summer program in Hyderabad. During the program, he attended classes in Global Edge School.

It was because of the school that he inculcated the habit of reading a newspaper. The school gets both Telugu and English news papers. The Telugu paper has local district news where as the English paper has news from all over the world. In today’s times, he feels it is important to know what is happening in the world. For example, the news of demonetization of 500/- and 1000/- rupee notes was conveyed to his parents by him. He reads the paper and shares information about any government related policy or schemes with them. His parents are both agricultural labourers and not educated. They want him to study well and can afford his higher education provided he gets a merit seat.

Since he wants to pursue Engineering, he feels that the encouragement towards reading on a wide range of topics and understanding English, as developed in the school, will help him in cracking entrance examinations in future. Another important factor for cracking exams is the knowledge of English language since the entrance exams are conducted in English. According to teachers, he is a very hard working and bright child. Given his levels of dedication and hard work, he shouldn’t find it difficult to fulfil his ambition.

We wish him all the best for future endeavours.

 

Time for Rhymes!

Speaking and communicating in English is now considered a life skill not just in India, but in most countries as it is the universal language of communication. English is a second language for a majority of Indians and in rural areas, with very limited exposure to the language, it is akin to a foreign language. This can make learning the language a difficult task, also due to language limitations in rural teachers.

ms-blog-1-rhymes-recitingHowever, it has been shown that early exposure to a new language can help children grasp a language more easily. Rhymes are a fun way for young children to learn the speaking rhythm of a language, along with intonation, repetition of sounds and words and building vocabulary. Learning rhymes and repeating its rhythms also brings in an element of play, so that learning English can feel effortless. With accomplishment in learning rhymes, children get motivated to learn more. Therefore, learning rhymes and simple poems is an integral part of the primary school curriculum in RDF schools. Trained and mentored by committed volunteers, adept in English and thereafter with the encouragement of RDF teachers, young children have been enthused about their rhyming skills and enhanced language abilities.

ms-blog-2-rhymesMatendla School conducted a rhymes reciting competition as part of the ‘Balavinodam’ programme. The competition was announced a week in advance, thus giving the children a week to prepare. The programme was open to students from LKG to Class 5. Students prepared their rhymes with the help of their English teachers and were asked to recite rhymes with rhythm and action. Students were adjudged based on performance, with 10 marks allotted to the rhyme, 5 marks for rhythm and 5 marks for action. The top two performers for each class were awarded. So while only the top two spots were awarded, commendations were given to all students, who were appreciated for their joyful participation.

 

Guidance on Goals

Students require strong role models who can exemplify the very skills that parents and educators wish to impart. The RDF VAPV Junior College invites noted people each month in order to speak to and motivate students. In doing so, the college hopes to equip students with the tools and life skills that are necessary in leading successful lives and building a good career.

jc-2Last month, Mr. Diddi Laxmi Narayana, a retired teacher and published author, who has mentored many students, was invited to speak to the students about the importance of goal setting and hard work. He spoke of everyday people like their parents who have goals to educate their children and provide for their families. In doing so, he stressed on the importance of accepting sacrifices in order to reach their desired goals. He also spoke about eminent people who have achieved their goals through hard work. He instructed the students to not shy away from working hard as it is the only means of helping them reach their destination and achieve their dreams. He urged the students to always remember that hard work never fails and is the secret to success.

jc-1He also spoke to them about the importance of communication skills in English, giving them tips on how to improve their vocabulary through daily work by reading and improving their vocabulary. He reassured them that weaknesses and strengths exist in everyone and that it was up to them to utilise their strengths to overcome weaknesses. The students felt that his advice will allow them to build confidence and felt inspired at the end of the session.