Archive for the ‘RDF Rollakal School’ Category

Honouring Honesty

In RDF schools, academic focus and achievement is just one cog in the wheel of holistic education. Emphasis is also given on building children’s character and life skills. Honesty towards ourselves, our peers and the extended community is a characteristic that we aim to build in our children and we take it as the highest level of quality in human character.

In RDF Rollakal High School, we saw the fruit of our efforts when young G. Rakesh of Class 3 showed absolute honesty when he found a Rs. 1000 note in the school playground. He immediately handed over the note to the school Headmaster who commended him on his honesty and undertook efforts to trace the owner. Children like Rakesh are role models for everyone and we are very proud of his actions!

 

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Cultivating Children’s Development

Growing our own food is an act of sacredness. In cities, our lives can be very distanced from the natural elements and the chain of people who grow our food. In fact, seeing our food grow from its seedling stage to our plates gives an immense feeling of satisfaction. Since RDF children live in financially deprived, rural agrarian communities, it was important for us to cultivate a mindset in which they see their agrarian history as having provided them with a richness of skills and experience and not something as challenging and thus avoided. While that is a reality, it became necessary for us to help them appreciate what they have grown up with and an understanding of the cycle of food – the cycle of life itself!

In Rollakal School, the school yard is being used as a vegetable garden. In fact, it is a wonderful way to use the school yard as another classroom, helping students connect deeply with the natural world – the true source of their food. Simultaneously, they also learn valuable farming concepts, methods and skills that integrate with academic subjects such as Maths, Science, Physical Education and their health. The school has had a bounty of tomatoes, greens, lady’s finger etc. which is providing a rich source of delicious food for their midday meal.

Working together on the school farm is yielding tremendous positive impact for the children who are gaining not just food knowledge and learning about growing their own food, but also about patience, cooperation, team work and social skills. Working with their hands and seeing the fruits of their labour are imbibing our children with a sense of self confidence and a sense of ‘capableness’. We find the children very excited when it’s time to go into the garden and work there. Every child, regardless of their intelligence or capability level finds something to do in the vegetable garden and that, in addition to everything else they learn, is something we positively cherish!

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!

Creativity, Coins and Kudos!

The true spirit of education and learning is to ignite curiosity and facilitate the natural interest of children. We can never stop smiling when we see creativity, born out of interest and curiosity, unfold itself through interesting experiments and contraptions.

Vijay, building the ‘Coin Separator’

Thumma Vijay, a Class 7 student of Rollakal School, combined craft and science to make a ‘coin separator’ for the school. He had observed that carrying small change can be a little troublesome. So he fashioned a ‘set of drawers’ from thick cardboard to separate Re. 1, Rs. 2 and Rs. 5 coins! He also had the foresight to think of user comfort and stuck 3 bottle caps to pull and push the drawers! With this model, everyone saves time counting out coins and they stay safe too.

The freedom to design their own creations, either based on what they learn and understand in the classroom or from other sources of inspirations is a joy to see. We are very proud that RDF schools actively promote this spirit of freedom in all its students. The teachers receive full credit for supporting students’ learning journeys.

Now Vijay’s classmates have resolved to come up with their own ideas to create something useful for their school or their home. It’s brilliant how a simple contraption is creating this wave of inspiration for everyone.

Well done Vijay – we are very proud of your invention and look forward to more creativity from the school!

A Special Birthday

Birthdays are typically days of celebration for children, who look forward to being with friends and family and receiving blessings and gifts from their families.

However, when Kanikonda Akhil, a student of Rollakal School, turned 14 years old recently, he decided to do something different. Concerned about the environment and inspired by the efforts being made in all RDF schools to bring awareness about environment conservation, Akhil decided to plant a sapling in his school on his birthday. He also gave a speech on his birthday, urging everyone to do something concrete that will help the environment.

The students and teachers appreciated his gesture and many students took a pledge to plant a sapling on their birthday too! Even the teachers were inspired by his thoughtfulness and they too decided to follow suit and plant a sapling on their birthday! Everyone agreed that contributing to protecting the environment was a much better way to celebrate a birthday and this planet too, rather than spending money on buying a cake and chocolates.

We are very touched by Akhil’s concern for the environment and are very proud that he took inspiration from RDF’s Social Awareness Programs and felt empowered to make his birthday a unique event for everyone. These are the waves of changes from the next generation that we see being birthed through RDF students’ inspiring actions!

Bathukamma Festivities

Nowhere are the cultural and social variations across India evident more than during her glorious festivals. The variegated practices provide a keen eye into the country’s rich history and enduring traditions.

The 10 day celebration leading to Dusshera is celebrated in multiple ways across the country. From the Kolkota Durga Pujo in the West Bengal to the Mysore Dasara in the Karnataka to the Kullu Dusshera in Himachal Pradesh in the North, to Chennai Bommai Kolu to  Navratri Mahotsav in the West, these 10 days signify Indian’s love for festivals, carrying traditions forward and being part of community celebrations. The decorations, songs, dances, food and rituals bring people from various communities together in joy. The unifying thread in the essence of the triumph of good over evil and the worship of the Mother Goddess – Durga, Lakshmi, Chamundeshwari, Kali.

 Telangana’s ode to the ‘devi’, to felicitate the divine feminine is the traditional festival of ‘Bathukamma’. It was celebrated with great revelry at Rollakal School. While everyone is aware of the festival’s cultural and religious significance, the school reiterated the fact how such festivals unite people effortlessly. The boys and girls at the school gathered the marigold and different flowers that are stacked for the Bathukamma. The women and girls of the school and the community sang devotional songs and participated with great enthusiasm. The festival ends with the Bathukamma being placed at the feet of Goddess Saraswathi.

Flowers of Honour

Schools are always a bedrock of excitement on the occasion of Teachers Day, not the least for the reason of dressing up as teachers!

RDF Rollakal School, like all RDF schools also paid a fitting tribute to Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan and all its management and teachers. However, there was a lovely difference to the celebrations. A social and environmental cause was a part of the celebrations – children were asked to avoid bringing anything made with plastic. Kids are normally keen to give small tokens as gifts to their teachers, therefore, this year, they decided to only present flowers.

The kids collected many flowers and then painstakingly fashioned them into garlands and bouquets – a delight to the eyes and the environment!

The teachers were very moved by the flowery creations and their gesture.

Thank you to the staff for always guiding our children in the right direction, towards greater conscientiousness, responsibility  and honouring themselves, their community and the planet!