Archive for the ‘Parent Engagement’ Category

The Care of a Community

Over the 23 years since RDF started its 1st institution, we had a vision of impacting the local community through starting a school. So it wasn’t just about educating rural, underprivileged children, in order to give them the tools to live a life out of poverty; but also to get the community involved in the school. Over 2 decades later, we are proud to say that all RDF institutions are seen as beacons of excellence, with active participation from local villagers, who help in any way they can.

Banoth Mothilal is an alumnus of Kalleda School and RDF VAPV Junior College. He belongs to a schedule tribe and his father is an illiterate farm, who has put in years of toil to ensure that Mothilal finishes his education. Mothilal never let his parents down and was a very sincere student, earning the admiration of his classmates and professors. He got 8.8 GPA in the SSC Exams, 916/1000 in the Intermediate exams and 17,000 rank in EAMCET. He was pursuing Civil Engineering in Warangal when life struck a blow and he fell sick for 3 months, being diagnosed with PNH (Paroxysmal Noctural Hemoglobinuria), in which the platelets count is severely affecting, thus affecting his ability to study, work or do any work for a length of time. He was treated at Global and Good Life Hospital in Hyderabad and discharged recently.

The illness has taken a toll on him and this once active boy is tired and unable to attend college. The medicines have made him gain weight and he is unable to walk or stand. But he nurses an intense desire to resume college and become an engineer. His friends and professors from the Junior College visited him and have offered to help in any way they can. This has revived some of Mothilal’s spirits. Their visit and kind words have given him hope that he can recover.

The bond shared in college has not been forgotten and we are grateful that the college community has stepped forward to help him when he needs help. We are praying for Mothilal’s recovery and achieving everything he desires.

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The Importance of Educating Girls

Times are slowly changing in rural India when girls are encouraged to go to school, remain in school and pursue their dreams. We see this happen in the RDF institutions and with RDF’s best practices firmly in place in the Tech Mahindra-RDF partnership Government schools, we are seeing similar stories emerging from these 2 schools too. We find such stories very inspiring and this gives us hope that things are moving in the right direction. While education is crucial to help regain financial independence and live lives out of poverty, girl child education is a social change taking firm root.

Jyothi

Jyothi is a Class 6 student in ZPHS who has been helping her mother who works in a canteen on daily wages, during holidays and at home, since her father passed away when she was very young. Gaining courage from her mother, who advised her to remain in school and find a good job, Jyothi has been diligent in academics and extracurricular activities. She loves quiz competitions! She’s working hard with the hope of getting a Government scholarship for her higher education.

Manisha

Manisha is a Class 9 student in the same school. Though the family is going through the recent bereavement of the loss of her father a few months ago, again, it’s her mom who has encouraged her to go to school and remain focused on her education. We see her mother’s fortitude in Manisha, as she’s getting back to life in school and pursuing studies with care and help from her teachers and peers. She also excels in sports and was awarded Rs. 1000 for Best Student by TNR Academy.

The future is bright for girls like Jyothi and Manisha and it shows the importance of having family support and an enabling environment at home. We honour their mothers and many such families who forge ahead with their goals with grace and tenacity, despite grave setbacks and challenges. When we see such inspiring change in rural communities, it gives us hope for the future of girls.

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!

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!

A Budding Artist

‘Beyond Textbook Education’ is an abiding philosophy in RDF. This philosophy is demonstrated time and again when we see how our schools encourage children to hone their innate talent and provide them whatever support they need to develop them.

Meghna is an RDF VAPV Junior College student who loves to draw. Her father who works for a small, private company is also an artist, so it’s easy to see where this talented girl gets her inspiration from. Right from her schools days in RDF Kalleda School, her teachers have encouraged her to draw! She loves to draw living portraits, pictures of Gods and sketches of human faces. Starting with drawing bird and animal pictures as a young girl, she was motivated to explore her skills more by her family and teachers. In this nurturing atmosphere, Meghna’s drawing skills sharpened and her artistry became more mature.

She has participated in many drawing competitions and loves gifting her work to friends, family and her teachers. “I would love to become a drawing teacher and inspire children to be creative and put these creative thoughts and ideas to draw”. We pray that Meghna realizes her dreams and inspires many budding artists, just as she has been!

 

A Whole day of Holistic Interaction!

RDF works very hard to provide resources to its children and teachers in order to aid their growth and development. Living in poverty for generations, we understand the life circumstances and limitations that the community faces and the programmes and mentoring they need to achieve their dreams and goals, as first generation learners. The philosophy also guides the progress of the 2 Tech Mahindra Foundation schools in Bahadurapally, which have come to be regarded as beacons of quality education in the surrounding villages.

The Sri Ramakrishna Foundation (SRK), Bahadurapally conducted a full day session on Life, Aims & Goals, Career, Moral Values, Success and Role of Parents for the students of the Zilla Parishad High School. The main aim was to gently encourage students about how to live in present day society, without fear and lead a life based on their moral values and how to achieve their goals.

The morning session was led by Mr. Bhargava Nagaprasad and Mr. Adiseshu. In addition to the main themes, they specifically spoke about financial difficulties and how to reach their financial goals. Plenty of inspirational examples from real life were given to the students in order to motivate them, such as Dr. Abdul Kalam’s humble roots and achievements.

In the afternoon session, Mr. Bhagicha Singh of TNR Academy and Mr. M.D. Rao were the speakers. Mr. Rao, at 85 years of age, who leads an independent life, proved to be a source of inspiration for everyone present. They also spoke on health issues such as abstaining from ‘gutka’ and alcohol and focus on looking after their parents’ wellbeing and achieve life goals. Mr. Singh spoke about the social problems of female infanticide and education for girls, urging students to encourage women and treat them with respect and preventing exploitation of children through child labour.  They also motivated the students to be of service to the country and help in its progress. Sarath, Jyothi and Vinayaka of Class 6 & 7 respectively were appreciated by the speakers for their confidence and ready answers. Mr. Rao was impressed with another student, Aruna’s thoughtful responses and gave her a cash reward of Rs. 500 on the spot!

TNR Academy gave each of the 247 students present an exam pad, pen, pencil box and notebook! They also promised to provide free coaching to ZPHS students, based on merit. The day ended with positive feedback from the students who felt inspired by the talks and ready for action!

 

Turnaround Time!

We have been witnessing the power of community in the Tech Mahindra sponsored ZPH and MPP schools. This has taken time, but the school team has work very hard with the vision that becoming a beacon of quality education in Bahadurapally and creating an atmosphere of trust was absolutely essential. With mentoring from the RDF and TMF team, they understood that a good school is not just one that has a list of academic toppers; the environment in school also needs to be conducive to growth and development of students and teachers. With this vision, a lot of time and effort has been invested in training teachers in not just improving their academic and teaching competencies, but also in child psychology and maintaining a high level of engagement with parents and locals.

With this foundation of care and trust, we have witness several turnaround stories from children who, perhaps, would have been given up on in another environment or school. Sainath, a Class 3 student was extremely quiet when he joined the school. He did not mingle with his classmates and hence did not make any friends. His individual work was quite good – he had good reading and writing skills and had a lot of interest in sports and art. So what was ailing Sainath?

Teachers realised that he had an inferiority complex, brought on due to fear of authority figures, namely his parents and previous teachers. In such a situation, forcing a child doesn’t bring any result. He needed to overcome his fear of authority, relax and mingle. So the teachers just let him be. They observed him from a distance, never interfering with his activities and encouraging him when he needed a hand. Their mantra was ‘no pressure’ Slowly, he began to open up – trust that had been lacking earlier was built. He started mingling with his classmates, helping them with classwork and homework! His transformation filled everyone with joy!He was also nominated as a class leader! What a difference an atmosphere of gentle care created in the now quietly confident Sainath!

Harshitha is a Class 10 student who is good at studies and actively plays Kabaddi and Kho-Kho; she’s also friendly and ambitious. One day, she fell seriously ill, complaining of severe stomach ache. Writhing in pain and unable to speak, the HM desperately tried to contact her father and mother, a driver and daily wage worker respectively, to no avail. Needing urgent attention, the HM eventually sent her to hospital with 2 teachers and ensured that she received good medical care. It turned out that her habit of eating slate pencils had created this issue! With the doctors and teachers’ strict advice, she swore to get rid of her habit. Her parents were also counselled to pay close attention to her as they had not paid close attention to her poor appetite. She has now fully recovered and has not eaten a slate pencil since this scare!

We commend the teachers and the school management for taking such good care of the children, being truly interested in their wellbeing and counselling the parents when needed. We absolutely love seeing children blossom in this environment!