Archive for the ‘Inspiring students’ Category

The Right Values

RDF prides itself on the excellent value based education system that forms the fabric of its schools. While academic education certainly has its place, RDF has made tremendous effort to inculcate life skills in its students, placing a lot of value on human relationships.

Cheran (R), feeding Josh

Cheran is 11 years old and studies in Class 6 in Redlawada School. He likes being in school and engages well academically and in extracurricular activities too. He is a natural helper and is always eager to assist. Recently, his younger brother, Josh, injured 2 fingers on his right hand and needed help with everyday tasks. It was big brother, Cheran, who took it upon himself to help Josh as much as he could.

It’s beautiful to see the emphasis on family values in our students. Seeing care in relationships and acts of kindness sets the right example for our students. Social responsibility starts with our personal lives first and then flows in our outer world. In this consumerist world, we hope these are the right values that will enable students to balance all aspects of their lives.

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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!

Not Just Recycling Paper!

Running an NGO is very gratifying work, but it comes with its own challenges as well, primarily in the area of costs to keep the schools running. We are very blessed, that over 2 decades, we’ve had many individuals and organisations joining hands with us, to provide high quality and holistic education to rural children.

However, this story is an acknowledgement about how much our school teams also do, in order to cover part of their operating costs or reduce it. One method employed by Matendla School is recycling text books. Students are instructed to look after the text books carefully, so that the same books can be used the following year. This practice has been working well for the past 4 years. In addition to this, well preserved books look lovely with nice covers on them! The children and staff collect newspapers or old covers to be reused. Just before schools reopened this year, the Primary School teachers did an excellent job of collecting old covers and covering all the textbooks for classes KG to 5!

Small drops make an ocean and in this way, every effort made by the schools to look after some of their operating costs goes a long way. Since the schools run transparently, it’s also a great way for the students to become involved in such practices. By being involved at this fundamental level, the knowledge and learning is retained – another step to creating a wholesome learning environment in our schools!

 

Village Heroes, Modern Leaders

RDF alumni always champion RDF’s work. Even when they create good careers, they always come back to support us. While many aim for corporate jobs or aspire to become engineers, teachers or join the police; some really want to work at the grassroot level. Bukya Naresh and Kaku Sagar are 2 such alumni who contested in the local elections, with the former being elected as Vice Sarpanch (elected village head) in Mothya Thanda (tribal village) in Parvathagiri Mandal and the other elected as a Ward Member in Mechrajpally village.

Naresh

Naresh’s parents are farm labourers who dearly wanted their son to be educated. After completing Class 10 from a Government school, he completed his Intermediate from RDF VAPV Junior College, going on to complete his B.Com too. He was always interested in developing his village and rural communities. He has been active in helping farmers’ education about good farming practices, helping develop school to create a good education environment and in quick time has enabled Mothya to become the best ‘thanda’ in the mandal. It has good roads, good drainage system, street lights and drinking water. He has also put into place bi-monthly health camps and putting in a lot of effort to improve the quality of life for the villagers. He very humbly says, “I can do all these things only with the help of the villagers.”

Kaku Sagar

In Mechurajpally, Sagar says, “I belong to a poor family. My father is a farmer and my brother is a seasonal businessman. I dropped out of a government school because I wasn’t satisfied with my studies. Then I met Sridhar Sir, the Headmaster of Kalleda School, who inspired me to join the RDF school. Once there, I was encouraged by everyone and went on to do my intermediate from the RDF VAPV Junior College and also did B.Com and Master of Social Works from Kakatiya University. I discovered my interests and abilities in RDF and became a class leader in school as well as college. It was during my Post graduation that I was given an opportunity to coordinate a student meeting which developed my confidence & that’s when I decided to become a leader in my village, then go to the District and State level to serve the people with honesty and discipline.”

We feel confident of the future of the rural communities we work with, with being in the hands of such passionate and capable leaders like Sagar and Naresh. We are very proud that they were part of RDF and feel humbled by their gratitude towards us!

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!

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.