Archive for the ‘Life skills building’ Category

A Juicy Discussion!

It’s a great pleasure for us to see children take charge of their own learning and development. It shows that they feel confident and empowered to do so, which in turn, makes us feel that we must be doing something right!

Raju, a Class 8 student from Matendla School brought a large lemon into school one day and handed it to his Science teacher. This local variety, called ‘Sudi Nimmakaya’ has many medicinal properties and he wanted to explain this to his classmates, plus learn more about it from the teacher. The teacher, being familiar with the uses of the fruit was pleasantly surprised by Raju’s initiative. He went on to explain that this variety of lemon is a natural and ayurvedic medicine for the natural removal of kidney stones, without the use of harsh allopathic medicines.

That led to a vigorous discussion on other fruits and how they are being used to help with various ailments. It was a talkative and engaged class, buzzing with ideas and information! Isn’t this how we want our classrooms and children to be? Curious, eager and engaged? There’s so much more to learning, beyond textbooks!

The children went home and told their parents and elders about this fruit. So a humble lemon brought in by a curious student, has now impacted so many villages. Kidney stones afflict many people and we really hope that the knowledge shared by our students with their local communities will really help them when the need arises!

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True Education

Life for rural people is hard. Most families are either employed in agricultural work or in daily wage labour. They are away for a significant portion of the day, working long hours to earn some money to make ends meet and support their families financially.

This is the reality that RDF children grow up in, so it is an accepted part of life for rural children to start working when they are young to help their parents. The team at RDF Redlwada School who sent in this story was sharing that generally rural people are hard working people, therefore working and helping wherever they can is a quality that rural children imbibe naturally. Not only do they help with chores at home, but many also help in the fields during vacations.

Perhaps this is the reason that RDF children help and support each other so willingly. We believe that being generous and exhibit kindness and help is a crucial value and life skill. Therefore, while supporting their academic pursuits is an important aspect of their school life, so is engaging with them in their daily life and work, encouraging them to assist their parents wherever they can, thus empowering them to take responsibility for their lives and the community. This is the true meaning of education of us!

A Caring Environment..and some carom!

A nurturing environment in school – the support of friends and teachers can have such a positive impact on a student who is struggling – this is something we see time and again in our schools.

Hajekhan is a young Class 3 student in Mandal Parishad Primary School. He comes from a humble background, like most students in the school. His father is an electrician in a private company and his mother works as an ‘ayamma’ in a local college.

Hajekhan is a quiet boy who has not yet reached his potential academically and struggles with the language as his family only speaks Urdu at home. As both parents work in order to make ends meet, he also is unable to get support in his studies at home. He gets some help from his older sisters, but due to their own academic pursuits, they can only help him so much.

But Hajekhan is a spirited boy who loves to make friends and spend time with them. This spirit helps him to a large extent in applying himself to whatever he does. His teachers are also patient with him, indulging his obsession with carom! Actually, playing games, talking to children about their life, their problems is a proven way to bond with them – it helps them open up and trust the adults working with them. He says he wants to become a doctor, so his teachers are helping him realise that he needs to put in a lot of work academically, in order to realise his dreams.

The school team has also been counselling his parents to spend more time with him and try and give him some attention at home and help him with homework. This support network has helped his parents who are trying their best to follow the school’s recommendations. Since all children are provided free stationery, midday meal and snacks and uniforms, they feel very happy and grateful as it eases the financial pressure. They have seen the positive changes in their son and are happy to have him continue in this school till class 10.

Young Hajekhan has also responded optimistically to the care and attention given to him. He even played less carom during final exams preparation, spent more time studying and passed his final exams with a wonderful ‘B’ grade! Well done, Hajekhan! We know you have a beautiful spirit and you will go places, hopefully always with a carom board!!

More than a breath of fresh air!

Summer is in full swing and the heat gets to everyone – young and old. Areas where RDF schools are located are some of the hottest in Telangana. Air conditioning is simply not an option for people living in rural areas, but everyone has an intense desire to have access to cooling.

Students, assembling the materials & taking stock

However, Lady Luck was on our side! Synchrony Financial, a multinational organisation that has been supporting RDF in areas such as English development, Computer skills enhancement, soft skills and job skills training, on site in Kalleda School as well in their Hyderabad Head Office decided to recruit students of Classes 8 & 9 from Kalleda School to develop a clever cooling system that does not need electricity! The icing on the cake was that this cooler can be built from common waste materials such as empty plastic cold drink bottles – talk about being environmentally friendly and recycling plastic!

Hard at work, assembling the Eco Coolers

In just 3 months, Synchrony Financial and the Kalleda School students prepared smart, powerless air conditioners called ‘Eco Coolers’. The  method to make an Eco Cooler is fairly simple.  A board is cut to fit the desired window size and bottle neck sized holes are cut out in a grid pattern on the body of the plastic bottle. The neck of the plastic bottle is cut off and discarded, leaving funnel shaped bottle necks that are placed on the grid.  The Eco Cooler is fit into the window. When mounted, the wider port of the bottle faces outward and catches the passing wind, literally funnelling cool air into the house. It has the ability to bring the temperature down by as much as 5 degrees celcius!

..And they’re ready!

This was an electrifying project (pun unintended) for our students who were able to enhance their thinking and creative capacities and learnt how to make an innovative system, perfect for summer and taking into consideration the financial constraints of rural communities. In addition, it was an excellent enterprise in recycling waste materials and doing something positive for their community and the country too. This was such an enriching experience for everyone involved! While initially, students had to spend some time collecting the bottles and understanding how to make them, they slowly picked up and were able to make several of them!

We are so blessed that Synchrony Financial gave our students the opportunity to create a locally produced system and providing them with the necessary skills that empowered them to do something so productive for themselves and rural people. We are very grateful to the team at Synchrony Financial and so proud of our students’ new skills in innovation and social responsibility!

Experience is the Best Teacher!

RDF children belong to families that sustain themselves on agricultural or daily wage labour. Over decades, due to reliance on chemical based agricultural methods and climate change, farmers have faced immense loss. Therefore a field trip to learn about organic methods of farming was precisely the kind of empowering journey for our children that would allow them to learn from live examples and pass it on to their communities.

On a hot sunny day, the children of Class 9 of RDF Kalleda High School walked nearly 5 kilometres to farms that had gained renown for using organic farming methods. The farmers were very willing to pass on their experience and knowledge to the children, which we were very grateful for. The children and staff observed drip irrigation system,  sprinkler system and crops such as paddy, maize, mango and vegetable gardens too. The children were bursting with questions and the farmers explained everything to them patiently, which was a wonderful interaction to see!

Through the trip, the children learnt the benefits of using bio fertilizers, how it improves soil fertility and how to obtain high yields. They understood the damaged caused to the soil, and the microbiome that are essential to crop growth, if we used chemical fertilizers and pesticides. After this informative trip, the children visited a dairy farm in order to learn about livestock, milk production, caring for milch animals, their diseases and how to prvent them.

All in all, the children were thrilled with their outing and felt that they had learnt a lot from the farmers. They are now eager to speak to their community elders about using such methods in their own field. We absolutely love the feeling of responsibility and empowerment in these children, who genuinely want to strive towards making their communities economically stronger. Hats off to them!

Of Kitchen gardens and Kindness!

Children, hard at work in the school farm

The lush produce at the school

Every RDF school has a thriving organic kitchen garden/farm in order to grow some of their own produce for the midday meals and also to help the local economy.  Seeing fruits, vegetable, grains and lentils grow from seed to cooked stages really inspires our children and makes them an active part of the food production process in their school. It also instills a sense of kindness and care towards nature and her resources.

In RDF Rollakal School, the creation and management of this vegetable garden means that they do not need to buy vegetables from the market for the midday meal programme. This also allows them to reduce expenditure. Some of the vegetables that they have successfully grown are brinjal, tomato, lady’s finger, ivy gourd, bottle gourd and bitter gourd.

Farmer Venu Rao in RoS

It has also brought the local community in Rollakal together. Due to water scarcity, the school’s neighbour and farmer, Karimilla Venu Rao, has been kind enough to supply water for the school’s farm. We are immensely grateful to him for helping us in this time of need. We absolutely love this culture of kindness and kinship towards the land and the people who till the land and this power of kindness that that brings us together.

It once again goes to show the power of trust and relationships within the local community that allow RDF schools to thrive and grow!

Creating Wealth from Waste

Everyday in our homes, papers and newspapers are unthinkingly thrown away. However, if we put our minds to it, these ‘waste’ newspapers can become a rich source of recyclable material. This is precisely what the RDF Matendla School team decided to do. Perturbed by the wastage of paper in their surrounds and also wishing to create a good example for children, the school team informed students and teachers to collect every form of waste paper they could find, including newspapers, from their homes and neighbourhood and bring them to school on the 5th and 15th of each month.

This waste paper is collected during morning assembly and the staff and students who have made the effort to collect and bring this paper are appreciated. The mere start of this process has create a positive impact in the school community. Students and teachers are looking more closely at the usage of paper in their homes and neighbourhood and are now saving paper. Not only do they understand the importance and value of paper, by they are also advocating saving and recycling paper in their community, thus making their local community more conscious about paper wastage and the impact of doing so on the environment.

The paper is being used to create notebooks for the school, paper bags and art and craft items. In this way, everyone is learning how to build a more conscious and aware community and help in preserving our resources and the environment. Kudos to the Matendla team for taking on this responsibility and spreading the message of saving paper, saving trees and saving the environment and empowering the local community to take up this cause!