Archive for the ‘RDF Redlawada School’ Category

The Web of Learning

Learning exists all around us. It is a fallacy that learning only exists in classrooms from a teacher who holds the key to knowledge. But we have seen that we can learning something from everyone. This is something that we inculcate early on in RDF schools, where everyone is seen as a learner and a teacher!

Kalyani, helping in her parent’s fields

Class 4 student, Kalyani, who studies in Redlawada School, like many RDF children helps her parents on the farm. She is learning so much from the life of farming with her parents. She is learning about the value of traditional work and agriculture from them – the challenges, the hard work, the vagaries of nature, about soil, water, crop cycles – life in the real world. Kalyani’s parents are teachers too and in turn, Kalyani can teach so much to anyone who has never had exposure to this way of life.

From the same school, come lessons from one of its first alumnus, Swapna. With aspirations to become an Engineer, Swapna is now pursuing B-Tech. She is happy to be following her dreams, after getting a good start in RDF. She returned to her school to give a motivational talk about following one’s goals to Class 10 students. Swapna, the motivational teacher,  emphasized the importance of English and Communication skills. It’s great to see the spectrum of learning that exists – right from one’s parents to ex-students! We are grateful for this web of connection that supports each and every one of our students inch closer to their goals and dreams!

 

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The Spirit of Giving and Volunteering

Volunteers – their spirit of giving, their generosity of time, effort and commitment have been an integral part of RDF’s story since inception. RDF has been progressing for over two decades, not only due to financial support from organizations and individuals, but very importantly, also because of the many individuals who have volunteered their time to support RDF’s work.

Ms. Geeta Nambiar, an educationist from Chennai has volunteered with many NGOs across the world. She recently spent one month based in Matendla School, to offer her services to the students and the school team there. With English being a necessary language and skill in today’s world, she focused her efforts on working with Pre-primary and primary children and teachers to build their English communication skills. She also spent time with the villagers who asked her a very important question – “What is the use of staying for just a month? To make a difference you have to stay for a year.” She was unable to stay longer, but feels that in order to support the school and community’s development, other volunteers should try to stay longer.

She wrote a beautiful note about her stay at the school and her interactions with the local community –

Ms. Nambiar, in a teacher training session in MS

It was a privilege, indeed, to help the teachers with their English, at this school, which started under the trees, nearly 20 years ago and waited for 7 years before it got its beautiful building.
I was deeply moved to hear that every brick was handmade by the parents. These unlettered farmers and shepherds realized the value of education and later, the value of English when they requested for the change of medium.
The villagers were warm and friendly and invited me to their homes and many asked many questions. As first generation learners, educated in the Telegu  medium, the sincere, dedicated teachers truly deserve support .
The school is run with transparency, honesty and integrity and optimum utilization of resources including human resources. Discipline is strict but benevolent and the students happy, healthy, friendly and confident. Congratulations to the RDF and to the staff and students on what has been achieved in Matendla. May you go from strength to strength.”

Ms. Nambiar’s commitment created a wealth of experience for the children, teachers and the extended community. Her stay will be cherished forever in our memory and we are very grateful for her selfless support!

Mr. Kaeding’s note about the 4 schools

Another visitor to the RDF Kalleda School campus recently was Mr. Erik Kaeding, an educationist and attorney from California, USA, who has been supporting RDF’s sister NGO, the India Rural Development Fund (IRDF), for several years, through fundraising efforts and also served on the IRDF board. This was his third visit to RDF and he took the time to visit the four schools. He observed classes, interacting with teachers and students. He appreciated the training the teachers have gone through that enables them to create student friendly teaching and learning techniques that enrich the classes. He provided feedback and suggestion for improvement, including suggesting other child friendly techniques for teaching. He also took a tour of the organic farms and the school labs. He was impressed with the expansion of infrastructure in the four schools that includes more classrooms and school buses. The methodical transition to English medium and the increasing use of English in conversation and in teaching also made a positive impression on him.

Mr. Kaeding, interacting with villagers

He met several parents in each school, taking feedback on the education system and facilities at the schools. He was very happy to learn that the parents are satisfied with the facilities and the quality of education being provided and that the children are also happy and proud to be a part of RDF. He also met several alumni to discuss their careers, giving them tips about furthering their skills and ongoing learning and development on the job.

We are immensely grateful to every volunteer who supports RDF and the advice and help that they extend to the entire community. In their unique ways, the help Educate, Engage and Empower these deserving rural communities!

Chekumuki Champions!

Redlawada School has created history by having 3 students selected to the State Level in the Chekumuki Talent Test and Quiz Competition. RDF children have been doing quite well in these tests that are organized by the Jana Vignana Vedika (JVV) to promote scientific temper in students. However this is the 1st time that Redlawada School students have cleared the District level test! Kalleda, Rollakal and Matendla schools also received a District level award.

Neeraja, Class 8, J. Rakesh, Class 9 and P. Raju, Class 10 showed that they have what it takes to win! The parents, teachers and students at the school are delighted with this news and are now praying that they achieve success at the State Level competition too.

Participation in such interschool and competitive tests build academic skills and understanding in the students and also provides them with the necessary exposure to test their knowledge and skills outside the classroom. It bolsters their confidence, regardless of the outcome. The children have always given positive feedback after participation in such tests and other academic oriented fairs.

We wish the Redlawada team all the very best!

The Joy of Learning

Children crammed into a classroom for 7 to 8 hours a day, memorizing their lessons is not exactly a picture of fun filled and joyous learning, is it? Imagine active and exuberant 4 to 5 year olds being made to sit or stand for hours on end. Young children have a natural curiosity to explore, to play and to run around. Many schools cannot provide an environment conducive to the natural nature of young children. But the RDF environment is very different!

RDF recognizes the natural drive and ability of young children, so the teachers are trained to work with these natural abilities in order to help them learn. This method of ‘activity based learning’ or ‘playway’ method has created fun filled classrooms for RDF’s young learners.

In Redlawada School, kids learn English and rhymes through songs and stories. Toys and other playthings become characters in a short play or story; the teacher and children together weave a wonderful story, adding songs and rhymes to bring the story to life. Rhymes are learnt with actions, music or play and games too! When kids are having so much fun, time just flies!

These activity based methods have been proven to show that children can retain content easily. Instead of making them undergo the stress of memorizing, having fun and play makes them retain what they need to learn effortlessly! Parents too are happy to see their children learn new things and develop themselves in this manner. The teachers too feel creative and engaged with such teaching methods.

We are very proud of the efforts of our teachers who take the time to creative engaging and meaningful lessons for these young kids, keeping their needs in mind. We admire their own playfulness and patience! As always, it’s always lovely to see the smiling, happy faces of the little ones!

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!

 

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!

Studies in Self Exploration

The race for academic excellence and confining student ability to a marks oriented approach has been receiving a lot of flak for several years now.  Time and again, it has been shown that this puts a lot of stress on students and limits their accomplishments to academic outcomes alone. Thankfully, RDF schools understood early on that there is another approach to learning, one in which there is less emphasis on rote memorization and more on learning through various activities that engage all our senses, including appreciating that each child is  unique. We realized that learning happens best when students are engaged and having fun, rather than passively mugging up texts.

The proud actors at Synchrony Financial HQ

Redlawada School students participated in 2 interesting projects recently. Students of Class 9 & 10 were invited by Synchrony Financial, a global MNC that has been instrumental in funding and setting up English Language labs and providing Life Skills training for RDF children. They were invited for a theatrical experience by putting up a play of their choice. Agog with excitement, the children took the historical route, adapting the mega successful ‘Bahubali’ for their play! Right from collaborating on the concept, adapting it as a play, dialogue writing, selection of characters and rehearsals were managed by the children on their own, displaying a vast range of personal and lifeskills. The performance was heartfelt and won the appreciation of the Synchrony Financial team. The passion of the children really shone through, for all to see!

Back in school, another creative Mathematics project was taking shape. Middle school students got themselves into a happy knot (pun intended), taking out their scissors and measuring tapes for a hands on lesson in ‘Measurement’. Going beyond the conventional measuring lessons with boring rulers, kids were given free reign to measure anything that interested them – leading to a far more energetic and delightful class! For a subject that gives many students the jitters, it is amazing to see how injecting freedom, creativity and inspiration can take this (in)famous subject from fearsome to awesome!

Isn’t this equipping them with a sense of exploring their own talents, skills and interests very crucial to navigating today’s world? Isn’t this far more conducive to learning and giving them a sense of self – esteem, confidence and accomplishment?