Archive for the ‘RDF Redlawada School’ 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!

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?

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!

Empowering Primary Teachers

The dedication of RDF teachers is a singular cause for the development of RDF schools over its two decades in rural education. There exists a wonderful ecosystem within each school of providing personal and professional training to teachers, thus inspiring teachers to give their best to their classrooms and the children, along with their inherent determination to put in the work required to better the lives of rural children through engaging and innovative classroom practices.

Demo of inventive child centric activities

Having motivated teachers, who benefit from a caring and supportive school environment goes a very long way in providing a enriched environment in which children can thrive and learn. Therefore, ongoing teacher training remains a prime focus.

Interaction with IPPTA facilitators

With this focus, Primary teachers were sent of a training program organized by the Integrated Pre-school Training Academy in Hyderabad. This was conducted for pre-primary and Primary level teachers to understand pedagogical techniques.  4 teachers from Kalleda School, 2 teachers from Redlawada and two teachers from Rollakal attended this event in order to better their teaching practice.

The teachers learnt several methods such as using rhymes, stories, playway method and preparation of teaching and learning materials for English, Maths and EVS from IPPTA facilitators. This helped the teachers understand engaging and fun way to teach their classes, helping children learn in an active and fun environment. Such activities also build rapport between teachers and students, which also plays a crucial role in student responsiveness, helping them learn better.

The teachers came away brimming with new ideas on how to deepen their own learning and deepen student learning too!

Civil Services Trainee Officers’ Visit

What better inspiration can children receive when IAS & IPS officers in training decide to visit students and staff of Redlawada School? 🙂

The bonds of strong community that each RDF school has developed by becoming an integral part of their local communities was demonstrated when the Redlawada village Sarpanch, A. Santhosh and village Wiseman, A. Chandraiah invited trainee officers to the school to interact with the students.

The visitors were very impressed with the facilities being provided to the children in such remote and rural villages and appreciated the efforts being put in by the RDF team to provide high standards of education and infrastructure to these deserving children.

The trainees took classes and also gave tips to students on how to prepare better for higher education and taking competitive examinations. They also gave an emotional speech on the importance of looking after children well in society, providing them with care and encouragement to stand on their own feet, despite their challenging life circumstances. Hence the support these children receive from RDF schools and staff was applauded.

The children felt very happy with the visit and were glad to have their questions about potential future careers answered by the very willing visitors!

Nurturing Creative Intent

Nurturing creativity, thinking and analytical skills is far more important than memorizing texts and writing examinations. While clearing examinations are necessary to get the requisite degree, it is ultimately skills such as creative thinking, analytical reasoning, exploring interests and seeing them through with perseverance that actually help in career and life.

Raju, showing his JCB model to trainers from Andhra Mahila Sabha

Raju, a Class 10 student in RDF Redlawada School, was inspired to construct a JCB after seeing one lumbering down the road in his native village of Redlawada. He was also intent on making a working model and not just a toy. Since growing up in RDF, from LKG onwards, he was always exposed to the importance of conservation and recycling. Therefore, he also decided to recycle waste materials to create his JCB.

With prior experience in activity based learning methods which nurture curious minds, it is not surprising why Raju was so keen to see his experiment to fruition. With the encouragement of his Science teacher, he procured materials such as syringes an pipes to assemble his model JCB. Once he put it together, he displayed it to his classmates, including its workings. It is amazing how creating working models of everyday vehicles bring to light so many scientific principles that make learning so easy. Raju proved to be a very able teacher to his peers by demonstrating how a JCB works!

Raju has always loved the atmosphere in his school, even when it was running in a small rented premises till 4 years ago. The atmosphere of invention, encouragement and creativity make him and other students interested in learning and their lessons. RDF teachers have been trained to pay attention to students’ innate talent and abilities, which support their growth and development.

Well done Raju & the teachers of Redlawada School for polishing a diamond like him & our RDF students! This is true value of Educating, Engaging and Empowering!