Archive for the ‘Community Engagement’ Category

Yes for Yoga!

A high quality education with high quality teaching standards requires well trained teachers. We are very proud of our teachers who put in a lot of effort to better their teaching practice through attending teacher training sessions onsite and offsite. They do this so that the classroom environment is engaging and children learn in meaningful ways.  This then necessitates that the well being of our hardworking teachers is looked after and we do this with yoga and meditation.

Matendla School was the venue of a yoga workshop by noted yoga therapist, Ms. Kamala and Ms. Karishma, who worked closely with the teachers to teach them yoga asanas, postures and breathing techniques. The teachers took to the session with the same dedication that we see in the other training sessions they attend. The teachers report that yoga helps them feel much better physically and mentally, which in turn helps their teaching too! We are truly happy to see that most of our teachers have created a daily yoga practice and do sessions with the students too! We are also very grateful to our community of supporters who help us with our needs in so many ways.

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The Power of Community and Technology

It’s May and educational institutions are closed for summer vacations. However this is also preparation time for EAMCET and NEET students. The RDF VAPV Junior College students come from many villages surrounding Kalleda, so coming to college everyday is not an option for those who don’t live in surrounding areas. Here’s where the beauty of community and shared goals have melded with the power of technology in order to provide support to every 2nd Year Intermediate student who’s preparing for the EAMCET and NEET exams.

The Junior College has put in a lot of effort to set up a fully functioning Computer Lab. Despite power issues, backup power supply and internet connectivity was established to make online study seamless and accessible for our rural students. This lab has been kept open all summer. Students from nearby villages make use of this fully equipped lab morning and evening. Their lecturers are providing full support by coming to college to provide coaching. Students who cannot travel are being supported via email and phone by the teachers, plus use of their smartphones for access web material.

We are immensely grateful to our in-person teachers and online teaching resources that are helping all our students during this busy study period.

Synchrony-sed English Development Efforts!

Learning English is remote, rural areas is a very challenging task. With Telugu being the native language and there being no usage of English in a child’s natural environment, a lot of effort is taken to implement English in RDF schools and teach it in ways that students are able to retain the new language skills that they’re learning.

We are very fortunate that the need to learn English in today’s global environment is understood by RDF’s supporters and that more effort is required to implement English in a rural school. One of our long term supporters has been Synchrony Financial who has helped us in innumerable ways for over 10 years! In order to help enhance English skills in our schools, Synchrony Financial set up an English Language lab 3 years ago in Kalleda School, equipped with computers, language software and electricity back up. This lab is changing the lives of the children and teachers through giving them access and exposure to innovative English enhancement programmes in a high quality facility!

Over the years, several employees and senior management have visited the school and most recently, the school was honoured to receive Mr. Ravi Kiran. He spent the day observing the work in the lab and was shown the lab maintenance registers. The children happily informed him on how much their English skills are improving through better grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation and sentence formation. They told him they feel less inhibited and more confident about using English.

Mr. Ravi Kiran was pleased with this progress and reported feeling good that the lab is being used effectively by the school and his interaction showed that everyone is indeed getting better at expressing themselves in English!

 

 

 

A Community of Support

RDF’s Midday Meal programme has been crucial to the physical and mental development of our rural children and the local community recognises and supports this initiative actively. The children receive a free midday meal each day of the school year which includes unlimited servings of rice, dal and a local and seasonal vegetable. 5 years back, RDF had to stop serving a daily egg with the meal due to funds shortage. However, many people have stepped forward to provide an egg during ‘Annadanam’, which allows an individual or organisation to recognise and honour an important life event.

The local, rural community, despite being farmers or small scale workers themselves, also actively helps the schools. In Rollakal School, some villagers have funded Annadanam with eggs! The Village Committee also provides a midday meal with chicken once a year. They also help by contributing to the school infrastructure and activities and doing their best to encourage students by providing smalls gifts to boost their education. This deep level of engagement is why we call ourselves the RDF Community, where stakeholders have the best interests of each other at heart and despite living humbly and coming from underprivileged backgrounds, the depth of their support and social responsibility for RDF’s progress is amazing!

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!

Helping Hands

The feeling of community is what drives RDF’s rural schools to become beacons of excellence locally. The schools function as far beyond educational institutions and in fact, have been instrumental in creating communal networks that have helped the schools and their extended communities to thrive.The schools look upon their local communities and parent communities to make key decisions for the running of the schools. The locals, with their trust in the schools, also look at myriad ways to help in whichever way they can.

It was in this spirit that Matendla School invited Mr. Masa Yadagiri, Sarpanch (elected village head), Narayanraopet village, to the school as the Chief Guest for the distribution of the Class 10 Hall Tickets. He met with the students and offered suggestions to help them focus and write their Board exams. He was pleased the students’ performance in all areas and was impressed with the system being followed in the school. He donated a set of instruments for the school band, an initiative that was first taken by the Primary school English teacher, Mr. K. Ashok. The parents of the Class 10 students were also present and the Parent Committee Chairman, Mr. Davaraju donated examination pads to each student.

We feel immensely supported by our local communities who help support their local school for better functioning. It enables parents to also be a part of the school, thus empowering everyone to do what is best for the schools!