Archive for the ‘Schools’ Category

Sport-on!

Manoj & Chinni’s win in a local newspaper

Rollakal School began as a small school with the shade of trees being makeshift classrooms. It has come a long way, with the cheery white school building and the spacious grounds taking pride of place in the local community. The grounds have been put to excellent use to develop sports abilities in our students, with school students achieving many wins in various sports.

Class 4 students are given special training every year in order to gain admission in State run sports schools. Admission means the children’s tuition, boarding, lodging and sports coaching is 100% covered by the State Government. Ambala Chinnu and Solithi Manoj are 2 proud students who have made it to the Hakimpet Sports School, after a State Level selection that had students from 33 districts participate and compete for admission! Chinnu’s and Manoj’s fathers are toddy tappers which only provide them with a meager income. Chinnu’s father also had an accident when he fell from a palm tree which doesn’t allow him to do much work. Thus the burden of providing for the entire family has fallen on his mother.

Chinni, at home, with his proud parents

With their education and sports training taken care of, both families feel relieved and look forward to their career in sports and a better life, free from financial burdens.

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Epic Learning!

Learning becomes meaningful and powerful when there is a context to it, especially if the urge to learn rises organically. Here is a beautiful note from the Class 9 students of Kalleda School about a recent field trip that ignited something surprising!

The Sloka singing group

“One day, we, studying in 9th class went to Shivalayam temple in our village. We listened to some Bhagavath Geetha slokas, we liked the tone, the way of singing and the melody of the slokas. It made our mind peaceful. Since then we have been curious to learn slokas.  We approached our in-charge and Telugu master and requested them to provide facilities to learn Bhagavath Geetha slokas.  They recognized our curiosity and helped us to learn slokas.  Every day we practiced an hour after school, with the help of audio and our Telugu master.  We learned 20 slokas with meaning and we can now sing them, with meaning.  We learned one slokam every week. Recently we participated in Mandal level Bhagavath Geetha slokas parayanam competition and won the first prize.  According to our forefathers, these slokas play when some once passed away but we thought that these slokas can play everywhere and on every occasion.  Now we are trying to sing 30 slokas to go to the next level.”

Learning a new language, in this case, Sanskrit, also ignites areas of the brain which lead to more creative development and expression. We admire their zest and confidence to express their opinion that sloka singing can be done on many occasions! We can feel the beauty of the students’ experience and the path that their curiosity is taking them.

Supporting Sports

One of the cornerstones of RDF’s education philosophy is an emphasis on sports and games, which not only builds physical stamina and endurance, but also supports mental development. RDF students have been doing remarkably well in various sports disciplines like athletics, volleyball, archery, martial arts, kho-kho, kabaddi, fencing and yoga too! They’ve earned accolades right from the District level to National and International levels too! We are dedicated in our effort and commitment to identify children interested in sports and then training them in their chosen sport.

Sandeep, during college days

Doing well in their chosen sport, getting admission in sports schools and colleges is also a stepping stone to procuring Government jobs. The security of a job means an end to generations of living in poverty which is exactly what our vision constitutes. It gladdens our hearts every time a student secures a job – private or Government. Some become entrepreneurs too!

In the Army now!

Vemunuri Sandeep is a Kalleda School alumnus. His parents were farm labourers whom he helped during school holidays. The money earned by him helped ease the running of their house. He worked hard in order to put money aside for his graduation too. He was a volleyball star in school and his accomplishments got him into the Indian Army Technical Force under the sports quota in 2016. He is now posted in Pathankot, Punjab. Success stories like Sandeep’s provide tremendous inspiration to our students. It provides them with the motivation that with sincere effort and hard work, their goals and dreams can be accomplished too.

Self Creation and Self Empowerment

Education is crucial for rural children because it allows them to gain qualifications and skills that make them employable. A viable source of employment means a life free of poverty and its incumbent challenges.

Making beautiful handcrafted paper creations

While education certainly provides the academic degree that allows students to complete higher education and start a career in their chosen field, it’s also imperative that they learn other vocational skills too. Thus, at RDF, our approach is holistic, focusing on children’s innate talent, developing their interest and curiosity in meaningful ways and also teaching them new skills. Hence, there is a strong focus on making time for extracurricular activities, which our students enjoy tremendously!

In Redlawada School, the students spent time learning how to make beautiful decorative items using waste paper. Recycling and upcycling also helps them see old and used materials in new ways and amps up their creativity. Once they catch on to an activity, the interest levels go up and the creativity and thinking ability just burgeons! Such is the power of an open and nurturing learning environment.

A finished piece, held with pride!

Learning art and craft helps our children apply their minds in imaginative ways, plus develops proficiency in new areas that can generate a source of income and employment once they’re older. We’ve had several former students start small businesses in carpentry, tailoring, catering, opening a restaurant, serving the local community and the local economy.

This is precisely the empowerment of rural children that remains a constant vision for us and guides our work.

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!

Teaching Goals

RDF believes in its teachers and the crucial role of the teacher in creating an impactful and meaningful learning environment for students. Therefore, the training and development of our teaching force is as important to us as the education of the children.

RDF’s Education Coordinator, Mr. Shastri, facilitates regular training sessions for staff. He met with the RDF VAPV Junior College lecturers for a session on methods to help students understand course content easily. It was a day spent discussing ways to refine teaching methods, unpack course material and motivating students to learn and achieve their goals. He shared his previous work experience as a teachers and showed success stories videos. He urged them to help students relate to the world by reading and watching autobiographies as real life stories can provide tremendous inspiration.

The lecturers found the day invigorating and Mr. Shastri’s training very motivational. They said it provided them with more ideas on how to teach better and make their classrooms dynamic, fun and informational.

Empowered Learning

One of the great sources of gratification for us is to see students having fun with their learning. Several research studies have shown that retention is high when the learner is engaged and interested in the content. Engagement and interest creation is something that RDF teachers are dedicated to, through their own passion for teaching and attending many training programmes to enhance teaching and learning methods. So to us, children having fun means that the teachers are having fun too!

Science subjects are generally seen as tough subjects to understand. However, when the textual learning is supported by practical application through experiments, then visual learning leads to understanding. We’ve seen time and again, students taking to experimenting on their own when a concept becomes clear to them.

Abinay, a Class 9 student of Rollakal School loves coming to school. He loves Science and often looks at growing his understanding in innovative ways. He recently prepared an activity for class to demonstrate the structure of particles in solids and liquids. He used ordinary, everyday materials such as thermocol, empty bottles of various shapes and sizes and fevicol to prepare his model. This was a self initiated activity, one that he enjoyed doing and preparing for his classmates.

This attitude to learning and a desire to share his learning with others is what makes us so happy. ‘Learning is Fun’ is a mantra we abide by and thank our teachers who understand the unique challenges in rural education and go to great lengths to create a teaching environment that inspires our rural children.