Archive for the ‘Social Responsibility’ Category

Unlikely Hero!

People have a tendency to salute those to achieve great feats or those walking the halls of fame. But we have many unsung role models who do their work quietly and care for no fame.

Today we would like to celebrate the life of Badavath Kumar, a student of the RDF VAPV Junior College. He belongs to a poor family – his father works on a small farm and his mother is a daily wage labourer. Both parents are illiterate. Badavath has always taken everything he does seriously – be it college studies, helping his parents or pursuing his dreams. He attends college regularly and is always at the top of his class. He helps his mother with house hold working every morning and assists his father in the field in the evenings. He continues with determination and focus even during festivals and holidays!

He has treasured the sacrifices that his parents have been making to help him get an education. See their daily hardship and wanting to help them in every way, he has been helping his father learn new methods of cultivation. For the past one year, he has been cultivating the land and has been able to generate better yields than previous years! He consults role model farmers in order to understand and learn better methods of cultivation and has been passing on this new found knowledge to his father.

With this deep understanding of the issues that besiege the agricultural sector, Badavath has his heart set on becoming an agricultural scientist, so that he can help more people like his father learn better agricultural techniques. With a drive to help poor, rural, agricultural communities; he has already been passing on methods to use and conserve water better, not burn crops and reduce the usage of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. He dreams that he can pass on the torch of advanced agricultural practices to his peers and generations to come, to help farming communities in India.

We applaud quiet leaders and heroes like Badavath, who work tirelessly in remote parts of India and shine a light for struggling, underprivileged communities, empowering them with their zeal and perseverance!

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A Culture of Compassion for Agriculture

Learning from one’s local environment and community is very valuable for school children. While learning from textbooks for a curriculum is important, it is equally important for students to be able to connect textbook knowledge to real life challenges around them.

RDF children belong to financially backward, rural, agrarian communities. Most parents are either small farmers, farm labourers and cattle herders. Learning about challenges in farming is necessary for them, if they are to begin thinking of sustainable solutions – this is the vision RDF has been actualizing – by educating them about the world around them, engaging in deep and meaningful ways with the local communities and empowering them to understand the challenges and find ways to help them in various ways.

In Kalleda School, as part of a Science field trip, students  of Class 8 visited farms in their local village to understand the challenges in a farmer’s life and to observe the use of a Harvester machine. The farmers were happy to interact with the students, demonstrating how the harvester helps them save time and money. The farmers explained how it is getting difficult to retain farm labour and the economic burden of agriculture. Use of technology such as the Harvester machines is helping farmers, but they need more help to make their lives financially sustainable. They also had a productive discussion about paddy and its diseases and methods being employed to ensure good crop year on year.

The Harvester machine

Through this trip, student became much more aware of the difficulties present in eking a living through farming, awareness about how Science and Technology can help farmers and that there is still a long way to go in order to make this more productive and less cost intensive for them. We hope this reality and its inherent challenges will help our students utilize their academic and life skills learnt in RDF, to return and help our farmers – the backbone of India’s economy

Not just Teachers!

Children studying in rural and semi rural areas face such hardship in their lives, yet their tenacity at such a tender age leaves us amazed!

Rohith, now 12 years old, was all of 2 years old when his father was killed by relatives in a property dispute. Sadly, his mother, who was pregnant, was also suspected of being involved and was sent to prison, where she gave birth to her brother. Left almost orphaned by this tragedy, he was sent to live with an uncle who sent him to a state run children’s home. After serving 7 years of her sentence, Rohith’s mother was released and was reunited with her older son. With the help of state agencies, his mother is now employed at an all women’s petrol bunk in Bahadurapally. Both he and his younger brother are in the same class in MPPS, Bahadurapally.

Working together with classmates

Studying hard in class

With this difficult start in life, both brothers were shy and quiet in all classes, rarely mingling with their classmates. His teachers provided him with a lot of support, slowly drawing him out of his shell and make friends. Slowly, with his trust building up, he began to show greater interest in his studies and sports. He especially loves to play Kho Kho and Kabaddi. He has also shown keen interest in computers and with the help of the computer teacher, Mr. Anil, he has been doing data entry and becoming adept at using computers. Since he was looked after by an Army officer at the children’s home, he now nurses an ambition to join the Army.

Diligently doing data entry

His teachers understand his background and circumstances – they see it often with children who come from deprived, underprivileged and broken homes. It’s their care and understanding of children’s psychology that allows them to build bridges and help them open up to the positives in life. They are so much more than mere teachers of academics or activities. They do so much more with the circle of care and encouragement that they give every child in the school. With his new found confidence and his faith restored in life, we pray and hope that Rohith accomplishes all his goals and lives a happy and successful life that he so richly deserves!

The Team Teaching Spirit!

RDF schools follow a unique system of evaluating the efficacy of its teaching and learning practices. Teachers from RDF schools visit another RDF school in order to observe, review and provide feedback, including sharing teaching challenges and better teaching methods. This method allows teachers from different schools to share their experiences, take advice and feedback from each other and in the process, empower themselves.

KS Senior School teacher being observed by MS team

In November, teachers from Matendla School in Siddipet district visited Kalleda School in Warangal Rural district. The Matendla team observed all classes in Primary and High School, Sports and Co-curricular activities. The observations gave them the opportunity to appreciate how the activities are being conducted in Kalleda and compare them to academic and non academic activities in Matendla School. There was also an open discussion about the gaps that were observed and how to go about mitigating them.

Primary class being observed by MS team

MS team observing a KS Computer class

This open and transparent system of internal visits and monitoring helps teachers take responsibility for their own work, share best practices and more importantly, work together towards the common goal of enriching the teaching and learning environment in all RDF schools, so that students receive the maximum benefits and impact of high quality teaching.

It also allows them to reflect together on the goals of teaching and the importance and role of the teacher in providing a rich and nurturing environment to children, such that they can learn to their best potential. We are very proud of this team spirit that exists between teachers of the 4 RDF schools and can see how this culture uplifts the teachers’ own experience and the students too!

Career Guidance

Guidance for first generation learners, who have lived and studied in rural areas, but want to work in cities, is a crucial step in preparing them for life outside their small villages. If we think preparing children for the world is a tough task, imagine the culture shock experienced by rural children!

Therefore, all RDF institutions conduct Career Guidance and Life Skills training sessions, in addition to participation in meets and field trips to other towns and Hyderabad. At the RDF VAPV Junior College, the team invited Mr. E. Muralidhar Rao, a reputed speaker, from Warangal. Mr. Rao gave a detailed talk about various courses available after Intermediate and how to apply for the best course. He also motivated the students to think about success and the qualities required to achieve success in their careers and life. “Conduct, Concentration and Commitment are the three qualities required to reach life goals and success” is the mantra he swears by.

He patiently explained to the students that problems and challenges are a part of life, but the attitude to solving those makes a big difference. How do we set goals? What do we do when we encounter problems? What strategies do we follow? These were the pertinent questions he posed and discussed with the students.

The students also asked various questions and doubts about higher education and courses most suitable for them to take up, which he clarified patiently. He also advised them to read more books and spend their time wisely and productively, rather than on phone calls, chats, Facebook and other social media. He recommended that they arm themselves with knowledge through books and awareness rather than social media.

The students listened intently to his thoughts and views and felt motivated and more confident about their future prospects. They understood that they need to be committed to their goals and work hard, if they are to get out of the poverty cycle. We thank the Junior College team for their commitment to their students’ future and arranging such inspiring sessions. We also thank Mr. Muralidhar Rao for giving his time and interacting with the students. We’re positive your guidance and wisdom will help them in innumerable ways!

Empowered Student Leaders

Rural underprivileged children studying in RDF schools are not just given academic instruction in order to pass exams, so that they may get jobs in the future.  There is cognizance of the fact that they need more than their marksheet in order to do well in their life and prospective careers. Therefore, their all round development is nurtured carefully by the staff and management in each school.

Leadership skills are an area that is developed through assigning activities specific to the students. In Matendla School, the Head Boy, Head Girl, Assistant Head Boy and Assistant Head Girl conducted a meeting for students of Class 6 to 10, in the presence of the High School teachers, Assistant Headmaster and Headmaster of the school. The purpose was to understand things that are going well and challenges being faced by the students in school. The Head Boy and Head Girl gathered information from each Class Leader and presented the information to the staff and management. The students freely expressed their views and opinions and with suggestions from teachers and in-charges, they formulated a plan of action to improve academic input and output, discipline and school neatness.

The student leaders take on the onus of such tasks seriously and take a tremendous level of responsibility in planning and executing their tasks. It is also great to see students and teachers freely discussing values and what’s the best course of action for the students and the school. There are many such areas through which the school promotes a sense of leadership and responsibility among students. Good leaders take responsibility and work towards finding solutions to challenges, disseminate facts and information clearly and work as a team. These are life skills that are essential to living in today’s world.

The school in-charges recognise how crucial these skills are and help students to develop themselves, in order to prepare them for their future. This level of educating them and engaging with them in various activities eventually empowers them to take charge of their lives. It’s an invaluable skill that cannot be learnt through academic work only. We are very proud of the empowered community of teachers and students – empowered citizens  that we are building in each RDF school!

Community Care for the Children

In this digital era, the ramifications of being in an interconnected, digital world are not confined to just urban children. It easily reaches rural children too as technology has penetrated all parts of India. Therefore, it is not unusual, even in rural India to find children spending time on their cell phones, browsing the internet, spending time on Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter or watch serials on television. The hold of such digital media and content is so strong that it has been creating concern among parents and educational institutions, as students spend more time in the digital world than the real world.

A discussion with teachers & parents

The team at the RDF VAPV Junior College also had similar concerns. They decided to enlist the support of the parents and also spoke to the students to come up with ways through which students also focused on their education, rather than whiling away time on their phones and the internet. The college now send the homework requirements and project work via SMS to each parent. They are also informed if the student is absent, especially an absence of 3 days or more. They also exhorted parents to participate more in their children’s lives and take an interest in what they are doing.

Getting suggestions from parents & students

These initiatives have led to parent’s paying more attention to their children, helping them with their projects and homework, which is having a positive effect on their attitude and their academics too! The lecturers are also spending time engaging more deeply with the children, discussing education, life skills, careers and handling challenges in life. Undertaking such social responsibility together is what makes the RDF environment a dynamic one!

The parent community feels very motivated at the support and care that their children are receiving from the Junior College. Since all RDF institutions believe in transparency of processes, they also feel free to offer suggestions to the college management in handling everyday challenges. This is an empowered community at its best!