Archive for the ‘Community Engagement’ Category

A Foundation of Change

(L) Rama Devi & (R) Srikanth, leading a Bonalu procession

The Tech Mahindra Foundation and RDF partnership in the 2 Government schools in Bahadurapally, is creating positive change in the lives of rural children and their families, just like the impact being created in the RDF communities. Therefore, it makes us very happy to see former RDF students come and work in these schools.

Rama Devi, with her PS students

Rama Devi, helping during a Health Camp

Rama Devi is a Primary teacher in MPPS. After finishing her entire schooling in RDF Kalleda School, she went on to do her B.A., inspired by her caring teachers at RDF. Having received the benefits of a high quality teaching-learning environment as a student, Rama Devi puts the same care and dedication into her own teaching practice. Her enthusiasm for sports and cultural activities as a student can be seen even now as a teacher, thus making her one of the most popular teachers in the school!

Srikanth, playing with PS kids

Likewise, Srikanth, joined as a Non Teaching Staff in the school. Highly dependable and friendly, Srikanth manages security, snack time and looks after the organic garden in school. He also assists the PET during inter school trips. Remembering his Kalleda school days, he happily joins the kids for play and fun.

Snack time!

Both of them are enthusiastically engaged in so many aspects of the running of the school, eager to make a difference! We are so glad that both of them have found secure jobs and are contributing to rural children and society in their unique ways! Their families now have ease of mind, knowing that their children are flourishing in their new jobs and a life free from poverty. Life has indeed come full circle for these 2 alumni.

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A Workshop on Micro-teaching

We love our teachers. They’re caring, dedicated and truly invested in the development of the students in their charge. We are constantly looking at ways to enrich the teaching and learning environment in our schools and RDF teachers are always enthusiastic to implement new ideas!

Matendla School organized a workshop on ‘Micro-teaching’. Micro-teaching is a teacher training and faculty development technique whereby the teacher reviews a recording of a teaching session, in order to get constructive feedback from peers and/or students about what has worked and what improvements can be made to their teaching technique. Micro-teaching is one of the recent innovations in the field of educational technology. It offers a new model for improving teaching. It has been found to be an effective  strategy for modification of classroom behaviour of teachers.

Rather than feeling uncomfortable at being recorded and reviewed, the teachers were very open to feedback. It is gratifying to see how engaged they are in their own education and development; with a healthy and robust exchange of ideas on good teaching practices! We love seeing the support and encouragement that the teachers share with one another. It is precisely this level of care which translates into the creation of a nurturing learning environment in our schools…the drops that make up the ocean!

Turning Around Life!

We have seen time and again how creating a nurturing environment in school brings out the best in children and teachers too. Now in the 5th year of a quality improvement partnership with Tech Mahindra Foundation, the 2 government schools in Bahadurapally are attracting families from villages further away due to becoming known as schools providing a high quality of education and healthy environment.

Simhachalam (L), reading a book with his classmate & friend

The turnaround we see in many students time and again, show us how they blossom, under such care. One such case is Simhachalam, a Class 7 student in ZPHS. He lost his father in an accident at the age of 6 and was unfortunately abandoned by his mother. He was being looked after by an aunt, but due to her own financial difficulties, she couldn’t afford to any longer. An uncle, a warden at a children’s orphanage and hostel, heard about him, took him in and enrolled him in ZPHS.

At play! Having fun with Kabaddi

By this time, 6 years had passed since his father’s demise and Simhachalam was displaying disruptive behaviour. He refused to come to school and didn’t do school work. His teachers understood his difficult life circumstances and that he hadn’t had much support or care. They worked with him patiently, letting him be, counselling him and giving him a lot of attention. Slowly, his trust built up and he started to attend school regularly. Given that it was the one place where he could be himself, he started to enjoy school and became interested in his studies and extracurricular activities such as kabaddi.

In just a short span of 1 year, he is able to read Telugu, English and do basic Maths. He’s made friends and his classmates even celebrated his birthday, which was a very moving experience for everyone! We’re grateful to the TMF team for being such a light to children from deprived backgrounds – not just financially deprived, but emotionally deprived homes too. To see him smiling, robust and of sound mind and body makes our work worth all the effort!

Partnership with Parents!

Parental support in underprivileged and financially deprived rural families goes a long way in ensuring the children stay in school, finish education and do well.

Annaram Rajashekar is a Class 9 student in RDF Rollakal School. His family comes from a very poor background, with both parents eking a living as daily wage labourers. Despite the high stress from finding daily work and earning enough to keep the home fires burning, his family was determined to send him to a private school and that too, an RDF school! They had heard a lot about the facilities in our schools and the quality of teachers. With the added support of the school team, to help them financially if needed, Rajasekhar studies happily in school.

Self Care

The ability to look after ourselves is also a life skill. Having a clean living environment by taking care of our surroundings definitely not the domain of just women! When the boys from the RDF VAPV Junior College returned to their hostel after the summer vacation, they found that the heat and rains had taken a toll, with dust and peeling paint on the wall. The rooms definitely needed sprucing up!

They took the praiseworthy initiative to clean and repaint the room by themselves and did not ask for any external help in order to do so. It was also great to see them collaborate and self organise themselves into groups in order to tackle the tast efficiently – again, life skills that are very much required. It is very heartening to see that RDF children took this initiative. This is a skill that comes in handy when anybody moves to a new location.

A Bright Future Beckons!

The RDF-TMF partnership is in its 4th year now and the seeds that were sown in the shape of RDF’s best practices with students and teachers, are blossoming in myriad, beautiful ways. Today we celebrate the lives and stories of some more children from the 2 partnership government schools in Bahadurapally.

Akhil, in a dance-theatre programme

Akhil Chary, now in Class 6, was reluctant to come to school when he joined 3 years back. He used to run away from school and take things from his classmates’ bags! The teachers have been trained in understanding student needs, their psychology and work in ways to get their cooperation. Plus the teachers really care about the wellbeing of their students. So, his teachers extended lots of patience towards him which helped him slowly integrate into the school. Now Akhil is known as the ‘class clown’ making everyone laugh, plus he’s talented at dancing & acting too! Sadly, he’ll be leaving the school soon, though on a happy note, because he’s cleared the Gurukula competitive exam and will be joining their hostel. He’ll be missed and we hope we can see him again soon!

Sunitha (R), at a plantation drive in her school

Sunitha has completed Class 10 from ZPHS this year, with a high GPA of 9.5! An ace student, she also became adept at computers, sports, dancing and acting; all activities that were brought in to develop students holistically. In the kitchen garden, she learnt to grow seasonal produce and took care of the mango and coconut orchards too. The school has put in the miles to develop a robust extracurricular programme for its students, with the intent of recognising and building their skills. Sunitha has learnt multiple skills and with these under her belt, learnt under the able guidance of the school staff, her future looks promising!

We wish both the absolute best that life can offer!

Not Just Recycling Paper!

Running an NGO is very gratifying work, but it comes with its own challenges as well, primarily in the area of costs to keep the schools running. We are very blessed, that over 2 decades, we’ve had many individuals and organisations joining hands with us, to provide high quality and holistic education to rural children.

However, this story is an acknowledgement about how much our school teams also do, in order to cover part of their operating costs or reduce it. One method employed by Matendla School is recycling text books. Students are instructed to look after the text books carefully, so that the same books can be used the following year. This practice has been working well for the past 4 years. In addition to this, well preserved books look lovely with nice covers on them! The children and staff collect newspapers or old covers to be reused. Just before schools reopened this year, the Primary School teachers did an excellent job of collecting old covers and covering all the textbooks for classes KG to 5!

Small drops make an ocean and in this way, every effort made by the schools to look after some of their operating costs goes a long way. Since the schools run transparently, it’s also a great way for the students to become involved in such practices. By being involved at this fundamental level, the knowledge and learning is retained – another step to creating a wholesome learning environment in our schools!