Archive for the ‘Community Engagement’ Category

Empowered Student Leaders

Rural underprivileged children studying in RDF schools are not just given academic instruction in order to pass exams, so that they may get jobs in the future.  There is cognizance of the fact that they need more than their marksheet in order to do well in their life and prospective careers. Therefore, their all round development is nurtured carefully by the staff and management in each school.

Leadership skills are an area that is developed through assigning activities specific to the students. In Matendla School, the Head Boy, Head Girl, Assistant Head Boy and Assistant Head Girl conducted a meeting for students of Class 6 to 10, in the presence of the High School teachers, Assistant Headmaster and Headmaster of the school. The purpose was to understand things that are going well and challenges being faced by the students in school. The Head Boy and Head Girl gathered information from each Class Leader and presented the information to the staff and management. The students freely expressed their views and opinions and with suggestions from teachers and in-charges, they formulated a plan of action to improve academic input and output, discipline and school neatness.

The student leaders take on the onus of such tasks seriously and take a tremendous level of responsibility in planning and executing their tasks. It is also great to see students and teachers freely discussing values and what’s the best course of action for the students and the school. There are many such areas through which the school promotes a sense of leadership and responsibility among students. Good leaders take responsibility and work towards finding solutions to challenges, disseminate facts and information clearly and work as a team. These are life skills that are essential to living in today’s world.

The school in-charges recognise how crucial these skills are and help students to develop themselves, in order to prepare them for their future. This level of educating them and engaging with them in various activities eventually empowers them to take charge of their lives. It’s an invaluable skill that cannot be learnt through academic work only. We are very proud of the empowered community of teachers and students – empowered citizens  that we are building in each RDF school!

Advertisements

Community Care for the Children

In this digital era, the ramifications of being in an interconnected, digital world are not confined to just urban children. It easily reaches rural children too as technology has penetrated all parts of India. Therefore, it is not unusual, even in rural India to find children spending time on their cell phones, browsing the internet, spending time on Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter or watch serials on television. The hold of such digital media and content is so strong that it has been creating concern among parents and educational institutions, as students spend more time in the digital world than the real world.

A discussion with teachers & parents

The team at the RDF VAPV Junior College also had similar concerns. They decided to enlist the support of the parents and also spoke to the students to come up with ways through which students also focused on their education, rather than whiling away time on their phones and the internet. The college now send the homework requirements and project work via SMS to each parent. They are also informed if the student is absent, especially an absence of 3 days or more. They also exhorted parents to participate more in their children’s lives and take an interest in what they are doing.

Getting suggestions from parents & students

These initiatives have led to parent’s paying more attention to their children, helping them with their projects and homework, which is having a positive effect on their attitude and their academics too! The lecturers are also spending time engaging more deeply with the children, discussing education, life skills, careers and handling challenges in life. Undertaking such social responsibility together is what makes the RDF environment a dynamic one!

The parent community feels very motivated at the support and care that their children are receiving from the Junior College. Since all RDF institutions believe in transparency of processes, they also feel free to offer suggestions to the college management in handling everyday challenges. This is an empowered community at its best!

Yoga for Life!

RDF cares about all its students’ overall health and life, not just their academic progress. The foundation for RDF’s work is the holistic development of the children, with a focus on developing them physically, mentally and emotionally. Yoga has been an important cornerstone in creating this kind of strong foundation in children’s lives.

Teachers from Yoga Vahini, Hyderabad, visited Matendla School and conducted a yoga training session for students and teachers. They learnt important asanas and pranayamas to help with balance, harmony, focus and building flexibility. Together, they discussed the main problem areas that occur in their lives and gave them specific asanas to do. Students and teachers felt strong and fresh after the session and noted that yoga helps them in their work, studies and everyday life in positive ways.

Slowly and surely, with yoga being such an intrinsic part of everyday life in RDF schools, even reluctant ones have been coming around and trying their hand at yoga. Over the years, students who have become proficient in yoga are taken for District and State level yoga meets, where RDF children perform very well. They have also become yoga ambassadors in their communities, strongly encouraging them to take up yoga, being proof of the benefits that it brings to their lives! Isn’t this what Educating, Engaging and Empowering is all about? 🙂

Dignity of Labour

Mentoring children to feel pride in their agricultural heritage, despite its inherent difficulties is provided parallel to a good and solid educational foundation. While the students do learn about the world beyond their village and aspire for good jobs, it is equally important for them to remain grounded in their day to day reality and support their parent’s work.

RDF children have no inhibitions working in fields alongside their parents. They usually do this during school vacations. Working in the fields allows them to recognize the intense effort that goes into growing our food. This reality stays with them even as they leave their rural life after school and venture into the world, getting jobs in towns and cities far from home. Therefore, they always remain in touch with their roots and continue to come back to their village and their school to support the community in any way they can.

On the fields, not only do they help with the actual farming, but they also look after the cattle. They are well versed with all caring for farm animals, their nourishment and medical care too! This work provides them with ample life skills – critical thinking, problem solving, and intimate knowledge of flora and fauna, that can’t be learnt from books.

We are very grateful to the teachers in all our schools who keep this spirit of pride and dignity of labour alive. This piece is dedicated to the staff and community in Redlawada School who thought of this wonderful piece!

 

Bathukamma Festivities

Nowhere are the cultural and social variations across India evident more than during her glorious festivals. The variegated practices provide a keen eye into the country’s rich history and enduring traditions.

The 10 day celebration leading to Dusshera is celebrated in multiple ways across the country. From the Kolkota Durga Pujo in the West Bengal to the Mysore Dasara in the Karnataka to the Kullu Dusshera in Himachal Pradesh in the North, to Chennai Bommai Kolu to  Navratri Mahotsav in the West, these 10 days signify Indian’s love for festivals, carrying traditions forward and being part of community celebrations. The decorations, songs, dances, food and rituals bring people from various communities together in joy. The unifying thread in the essence of the triumph of good over evil and the worship of the Mother Goddess – Durga, Lakshmi, Chamundeshwari, Kali.

 Telangana’s ode to the ‘devi’, to felicitate the divine feminine is the traditional festival of ‘Bathukamma’. It was celebrated with great revelry at Rollakal School. While everyone is aware of the festival’s cultural and religious significance, the school reiterated the fact how such festivals unite people effortlessly. The boys and girls at the school gathered the marigold and different flowers that are stacked for the Bathukamma. The women and girls of the school and the community sang devotional songs and participated with great enthusiasm. The festival ends with the Bathukamma being placed at the feet of Goddess Saraswathi.

Ready for Radio!

The RDF VAPV Junior College is very happy to inform that they have introduced the ‘Vanitha Pai Red FM’ – a novel concept to develop communication skills for its students.

Having fun with the in-house news announcements station!

The ability to communicate effectively in any field is generally what can help students in their careers. The goal of introducing this program is to help students to think creatively on a variety of topics of their choosing, share important news, information and messages with their peers and teachers, help with inhibitions or shyness in using English or speaking, improving general knowledge and share their own experiences, speak on current and world issues, as well as speak on philosophical and moral principles and values. Hence there is a range of themes that students can choose in order to enhance their speaking and communication skills – something that will suit everyone!

Of the students, by the students, for the students’!

Everyday, one group of students plan and execute a Red FM activity. All the students have taken to this platform enthusiastically and look forward to expressing their thoughts and ideas on a variety of topics. Red FM is run during three scheduled times during the day, outside of academic activities. It is refreshing to see students listening carefully to others’ bulletins, information and ideas.

Kudos to the Junior College team on creating this platform to help their students develop the essential life skill of good communication!

Traditions, not Trends!

Urban areas are witnessing a revival of traditional arts, crafts and food practices. Organic bazaars are de rigeur in many parts of Hyderabad and across the country and people gleefully buy local produce, organic fruits and vegetables and traditionally prepared spices and delicacies. This is a very positive trend.

However, in rural communities, such as those that RDF works in, traditional has never been ‘trending’! Generations old practices still find their rightful place amongst families. Children grow up with mortars and pestles and stone grinders instead of expensive food processors. These traditional methods are something the villagers are proud of and hence teach these practices to the next generation. Since RDF staff also belongs to the same communities that the children belong to, discussions on culture and traditions take place very normally and within the context of their social and cultural reality. The schools also support these practices which have been proven to be more beneficial and healthy for people and the environment.

To say the least, food prepared the traditional way tastes absolutely heavenly – every urban visitor to an RDF school is testament to that fact!