Archive for the ‘Parents’ Category

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!

 

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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!

The Power of Community!

School can have a profound impact on the lives of children, in surprising ways that one cannot predict.

Today, we would like to share the stories of two young children who joined the Tech Mahindra Foundation sponsored Government Mandal Parishad Primary School, Bahadurapally. Their stories are very different but show us the importance of community building and maintaining close relationships with the parent and the larger village community.

Md. Sadhiq Khan first joined MPPS last year in Class 1. His two older brothers are happy and settled in the same school. Sadhiq was extremely homesick while in school and distraught at being away from his mother and friends, kept running back home. His teachers made several attempts to coax him back, but seeing how upset he would get, they suggested that the parents not force him to attend school and to let him be. For most of last year, Sadhiq attended school very irregularly and would go back early even on the rare days that he went to school.

This year, his parents again attempted to send him to school regularly, but Sadhiq was still inconsolable at leaving home! Since was was a year older and able to express himself better, the teachers asked him why he was reluctant to go to school. Everyone finally learnt that he missed his friends and playing with them. He wanted his little friends to go to school with him! With that new insight, the teachers, with the parent’s cooperation, assured him that he would make new friends in school. He was taken to his class and introduced to each child personally. They asked the other children to be friends with him and share their toys and things with him. With the compassion shown towards his nature and his needs, Sadhiq, in a matter of a few days, made new friends and now attends school regularly – without a single complaint! He’s happy and cheerful in school, participating eagerly in class and school events, where he has shown talent in speaking activities. We are really happy that Sadhiq has settled in and thank all his teachers for their kindness and effort to integrate him with his classmates!

Sravya joined MPPS this year in Class 2, transferring from another school in the area. Sravya was a bright girl, keenly interested in all subjects and actively participating in extracurricular activities. However, after a month, her teachers noticed that she was looking withdrawn and not engaging fully in class activities. Concerned about this change in her behavior and demeanor, her teachers asked her if there was a problem. Sensing their concern and their kindness, Sravya confided that her father was an alcoholic and abusive towards her mother and this behavior was disturbing her immensely. The teachers decided to visit her parents to counsel them about the detrimental effect the home environment was having on Sravya. The counseling session was taken well by her father who felt remorseful about his behavior. Since that day, he has not imbibed alcohol and lets her mother be. Sravya feels happy with this turn of events and looks at her school and her teachers as her extended family, who will help her in difficult times!

We are very grateful and proud of the efforts being made by the school team to build and nurture these personal relationships with each child’s family. This level of care is rare! These relationships have helped children like Sadhiq and Sravya feel cared for and connected with their school; reciprocally, the parents also know that their children are in good hands and do what they can for the school. That’s the power of a true community!

 

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.

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.

 

Celebrating International Women’s Day

Games for the teachers

Girl child education is a prime focus area in its vision to educate, engage and empower rural children and communities. It has worked tirelessly for the past 20 years to convince rural people to invest in the education of their daughters, encouraging them to view girls as equals, with a right to education and providing employment to women.

The Headmaster addressing the audience

Therefore, the occasion of Women’s Day on 8th March provided a platform to honour the girls and women who are a part of RDF schools. In RDF Kalleda School, the Headmaster addressed the audience about the importance of events like Women’s Day and RDF’s focus on providing education to girls in order to skill them, become earning members in their families and to do away with the practice of child marriage.

 Thereafter, the female teachers were invited to speak about issues they have faced in their personal lives and in society in order to live a life with dignity. They urged the audience to understand the biases faced by women and requested them to treat women in society fairly and honour their role in society.

Having fun playing ‘Musical Chairs’

Fun games such a tug of war, balloon breaking and aim and throw were organized that everyone enjoyed thoroughly and brought in an air of gaiety to the day. While Women’s Day is just 1 day in the year, RDF continues its work with rural communities every day of the year to empower them in numerous ways, in order to bring about changes that can create a more equitable society at the grassroot level.