Archive for the ‘Community Engagement’ Category

Student Endeavours and Empowered Communities

RDF schools have been built on the premise of Educating, Engaging and Empowering underprivileged rural children such that they learn tools through their years in RDF schools that will enable them to gain employment and break free from their lives of poverty. At a micro level, this is possible only through deeply engaging with each child and their family, nurturing community relationships based on trust and faith.

RDF staff, who also belong to the same communities and have led similar lives, have an intimate knowledge of the struggles that children and their families go through; having gone through the similar challenges of financial difficulties, working hard to complete schooling, working as students to put themselves through college, simultaneously trying to support their struggling families at home.  Having lived through similar circumstances, RDF staff make the effort to create personal relationships with the children, guiding and mentoring them and celebrating their talents, skills and achievements through school and even after school. This care and support system provide huge encouragement to the children and gives them mental and emotional strength to face their life and continue to work hard in school.

Saritha passed out of Redlawada School last year and joined a Junior College in the neighbouring small town of Hanamkonda. She recently informed the school that she topped the 1st Year Intermediate Examinations in the CEC group. Though she has graduated from the school, she, like many other students, keep in touch with the school and update them about their higher education. The school also keeps in touch with families and extends their support whenever required. Therefore the school and Saritha’s family is celebrating her accomplishment and together prays and wishes that she continues with determination for her further success in life.

Chandana, a Class 10 student in the school, has also been putting in a great deal of effort in her academics and extracurricular activities in school. Her parents are agricultural labourers who toil hard to send their only daughter to school so that she can lead a better life. However, Chandana is a sweet and humble girl who understands her parent’s troubles. So she spends all her spare time helping her parents in the fields with every Sunday and each holiday dedicated to working together with her parents in the field which gives them some respite from grinding physical labour.

We celebrate the spirit and compassion of our children, their families and our local communities which includes our local staff , through these stories. We take pride in their everyday lives, their journey and not just the end achievement. This is RDF’s way of creating empowered individuals who can create empowered communities!

Community Circle of Trust

The importance of parent and community engagement has been paramount since the establishment of the first RDF school in 1996.  Each school has put in tremendous effort to built trust based relationships with its parent community. Since the students are first generation learners, it becomes crucial for the schools to be transparent in their processes and that parents understand how the schools are being run.

Thus, we recognise that parents are key stakeholders in the sustainability of their local RDF school. Rather than merely informing parents about student’s progress, the formation of a parent committee brings in value and experience in key decisions, which shows the trust and faith the school management has in the local community.

In Matendla School, regular review meetings are conducted regarding school operations and student’s education. A unique support structure has been created through which students and parents are invited to review their own progress and performance. This feedback is combined with staff feedback to create a more wholesome development plan for each student! This also puts the student in charge of their reviewing their own learning and progress.

This kind of open process creates a circle of encouragement and trust in which the opinion and feeling of each student and parent is valued. This allows the student to improve in academic and non academic areas too. Parents feel happy with this level of involvement and convey their regard and satisfaction for our processes.

A Culture of Kindness – by children!

RDF schools have put in a huge amount of effort in creating meaningful links between their schools and the local community. The community takes pride in having an RDF school in its midst and always spread the word about RDFs work with rural, underprivileged children in their local neighbourhood. This produces a ripple effect through which RDF schools receive many visitors interested in learning about RDFs approach to rural education and its work with rural children.

Matendla School was recently visited by Mr. Bhargav Nagabhushanam who is an officer in the Telangana Government’s Mission Bhageeratha project. He was accompanied by his wife and two sons, Sriharsha and Srijith. They interacted with all the students and teachers, observing classes and extracurricular activities. They also generously donated towards the Midday Meal program in the school.

Fans being donated by Sriharsha (9 yo) & Srijith (6 yo)

While going around the school, the two sons noticed that some of the classrooms were warm and asked their parents to donate fans to the school which the parents agreed to. Through the kindness of the two young visitors, the school received a gift of 6 fans! The staff and students of the school were very moved by this gesture of kindness towards them and wanting to help underprivileged children.

We hope this circle of kindness and compassion towards those who are less privileged continues as we all do what we can to make this world a better place for everyone! Children like Sriharsha and Srijith are an inspiration to us. Thank you!

Our Role in Enrollment

The Telangana Government has launched the ‘Professor Jaya Shankar Badibata Programme’ which aims to drive enrollment levels in schools by motivating and encouraging families to enroll school age children and school dropouts to join neighbourhood government schools.

ZPHS students in the school enrollment rally in Bahadurapally

As part of this initiative, students of the Tech Mahindra Foundation sponsored Zilla Parishad High School, along with staff from ZPHS and the Mandal Parishal Primary School, conducted an awareness program and rally in and around the village of Bahadurapally.

Students, as spokespersons of their school, spoke to parents to encourage them to send their children to school, giving details about the high quality of education and facilities that are being provided as part of the school improvement partnership between TMF and RDF.

Students talking to the local community during the drive

The villagers responded positively and were found to be aware of best practices being implemented both the government schools through existing parents and children.

With many school age children still not in school and school dropouts getting marginalized in society; such initiatives are crucial to helping families making an informed decision to send their wards to school.

 

Alumni Give Back

Over the years, RDF alumni have always come back to their schools to help innumerable ways. The connections remain alive, wherever they are.

In Matendla School, it was the entire Class 10 batch from last year who paid a surprise visit to the school and sponsored a Midday Meal, along with biscuits! Everyone was very touched to learn that they had saved their pocket money for several months to make this generous donation! They personally served all students and teachers, a gesture that moved many!

Though RDF students have shown over and over again how much they care for their schools, every gesture continues to warm our hearts. This good deed by mere 16 year olds will live in our hearts for a long time!

Nature’s Hero

We received a lovely note from S.K. Navaz, a BPC 2nd year student at the RDF VAPV Junior College who is passionate about trees and conserving the environment. Here is his letter, reproduced with his permission –

 “My name is SK Navaz, studying in BPC 2nd year. My favourite subject is Botany. I love trees. I plant ten saplings every year. I have taken on the responsibility of watering the plants in my campus daily and I feel very happy to see all the trees growing because they are the fruit of my own labour. I closely observe my trees. There are different kinds of fruits that grow on them like badam, cherry and regu. I feel happy that students and birds ate most of them. I prefer to spend my leisure time with my trees. I urge everyone plant 5 saplings every year. Let us join hands to save the environment.”

Local media article on the plant varieties in the campus

The Junior College students and staff have been making a lot of effort in greening their campus and spreading awareness on the importance of maintaining a green cover and having plant diversity too. So far they have planted 424 varieties of plant and aim to have 1000 plant species! Their work has been covered in the local media and commended by local communities.

The change makers that India needs reside in her villages. Living close to nature, in areas that still retain some of their verdant charm, young people like Navaz can still see the degradation of the environment. Their zeal and determination is admirable and we hope their positive influence can spread far and wide. As he champions trees, we need to champion young people like him who take on the challenging responsibility to be the change they want to see in the world.

Empowering the Self with Self-Defense

RDF has a core vision of educating and empowering the girl child. Over the years, many social and educational programs have been conducted for students and parents on the importance of girl child education and encouraging girls to study, work and become financially able. It is a matter of great pride for the RDF family that many girls have topped not just in academics but in the sports field too. Many students from the 5 RDF institutions have taken up martial arts, with the encouragement of their teachers and parents too!

Therefore, it was gratifying to learn that the Commissioner of Police of Warangal Rural District, Mr. G. Sudhir Babu, initiated the largest self defense lesson at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Warangal. The aim was to make women and college girls more self reliant by imparting key self defense techniques to them.

The smiling and confident team from the junior college

The smiling and confident team from the junior college

The RDF VAPV Junior College sent 50 girl students for the program. The students were trained in pairs by martial art experts, getting the individual attention that was required to master these techniques. The session was very well planned and executed. After the day long session, the girls came back to the campus and trained the students who could not attend, on the techniques learnt. The session has given them more confidence and they stated that such sessions should be conducted frequently.