Archive for the ‘Engage’ Category

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!

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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!!

The Value of Honesty and Generosity

The Assistant HM of Matendla School, Mr. Ganta Malliah and the school accountant, Mr. Sathyaramulu come to the school on their bike from their village located 7 km away. While going to school one day, they found money on the road. The took the money and asked the local Panchayat to see if the owner could be found, but even after several days, no one came forward to claim the money.

Mr. Sathyaramulu (L) & Mr. Ganta Malliah (R) donating the money

After discussing it with community leaders and elders, they decided to donate the money to the school, which was appreciated by the local community as well the staff and children in the school.

Acts like these create a positive impact on the school community because children see the value of honesty as well as helping others through donation of money, skills, time or anything that is no longer needed in a home or office. This unexpected gift will help in some way to better the school and life of rural, underprivileged children.

Gestures like these really drive home the values of helping and generosity, thus creating a nurturing environment in the school.

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!

The Story of Spunky Shubham

Shubham is a sweet, little 8 year old, studying in Class 3 in the TMF-RDF partnership school, Mandal Parishad Primary School, Bahadurapally. Now a darling of the teachers, who always has a huge smile on his face, Shubham had a rough start in the school.

Born in rural Maharashtra, his parents decided to move to Hyderabad in order to have a better quality of life, after suffering tremendously in drought ridden districts in Maharashtra. The move was of course upsetting for little Shubham who had to leave his extended family and friends behind. Not knowing the local Telugu language also made his transition to life in Bahadurapally difficult. His parents procured jobs soon enough – his father works as a lorry driver, while his mother works as an ‘ayah’ in a local college on daily wages.

On joining MPPS, Shubham felt quite lost in the early months. He could not follow anything in class, hence could not keep up with his classmates and the syllabus. The language barrier also proved tough for him, resulting in his not being able to speak, read or write and understand what anyone was saying! But Shubham is a spunky guy – he earnestly tried to understand and learn what he could and he managed to pass with average marks – a great effort for someone who didn’t really understand what was going on in class!

Shubham (exteme L), happy at play with his friends

We have to point out that the teachers extended a lot of patience towards him, letting him learn at his own pace, understanding that he will learn when he’s comfortable and integrates better into the school and local environment. Once he was in Class 2, he began to understand some Telugu and English words and letter. He also began to make friends, which made him really happy. He became more participative in class, enjoying play time with his new friends and also working hard at reading and writing. Over a period of time, he began to pick up the language and express himself as best as he could to his teachers and classmates.

Shubham (L), the carrom champ!

We are proud to say that Shubham has adjusted well – his strong spirit and the supportive environment created by his teachers going a long way in helping him become the confident boy he is today. If you would like to see Shubham, you will find him intensely playing carom – a game he loves! His parents are very relieved to see him as he is today and are very grateful to RDF and TMF staff for providing whatever Shubham needed in order to blossom. Shubham has vowed to study in MPPS till he completes Class 10 because he loves the school! What better testimonial towards a school other than the transparent love expressed by a child?!

Voice of RDF Parents

Parents in RDF schools are an integral part of the school. Every RDF school has a Parents Committee with meetings being held regularly to involve parents in school operations, problems being faced and taken parent suggestions and advice seriously. Therefore parents take ownership of developing the school by extending their support in myriad ways.

With the academic year end, the staff of RDF Redlawada School decided to go to parents houses to get their views on their child’s education and development and also to get feedback on the facilities and running of the school. It is this level of transparency and engagement that has made parents trust RDF schools implicitly and given them the faith that their children’s education is in good hands!

In all cases, parents unequivocally expressed their happiness about RDF’s education system and the school facilities. Parents said that they are able to compare the quality of education, facilities, staff training and the environment by speaking to parents whose children attend other school and they always feel assured about RDF schools. Such is their confidence in our approach, that they have always helped with new admissions in our schools!

Time and again, parents have come forward to assist us in many areas such as in-kind donations of water coolers, water filters, fans, classroom consumables, financial help, health checks, groceries and vegetables – the list is endless! It fills our hearts with warmth to see that RDF is also in good hands with such strong and supportive parent communities rallying behind our schools!

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!