Archive for the ‘Social Responsibility’ Category

Voice of RDF Parents

Parents in RDF schools are an integral part of the school. Every RDF school has a Parents Committee with meetings being held regularly to involve parents in school operations, problems being faced and taken parent suggestions and advice seriously. Therefore parents take ownership of developing the school by extending their support in myriad ways.

With the academic year end, the staff of RDF Redlawada School decided to go to parents houses to get their views on their child’s education and development and also to get feedback on the facilities and running of the school. It is this level of transparency and engagement that has made parents trust RDF schools implicitly and given them the faith that their children’s education is in good hands!

In all cases, parents unequivocally expressed their happiness about RDF’s education system and the school facilities. Parents said that they are able to compare the quality of education, facilities, staff training and the environment by speaking to parents whose children attend other school and they always feel assured about RDF schools. Such is their confidence in our approach, that they have always helped with new admissions in our schools!

Time and again, parents have come forward to assist us in many areas such as in-kind donations of water coolers, water filters, fans, classroom consumables, financial help, health checks, groceries and vegetables – the list is endless! It fills our hearts with warmth to see that RDF is also in good hands with such strong and supportive parent communities rallying behind our schools!

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An Extraordinary Turnaround

Little Abdul, posing

We love to share stories of change from the RDF community as well as from the Bahadurapally Government schools that are part of a quality education initiative between RDF and Tech Mahindra Foundation. We love to hear and share stories of how children are blossoming in the school environment, especially because of the painstaking work that has been spent on training teachers on how to build rapport with children and encourage child centric methodologies.

Asleep in class!

Abdul Salam is an orphan who was sent to study in the Mandal Parishad Primary School by the Shishu Vihar orphanage. When he first joined the school, he was lackluster. He didn’t participate in any classroom activities or even extra curricular ones; he only liked playing in the mud, wander around the school corridors and sleep. There were also some behavioural issues such as disturbing the class, rudeness, not listening to teachers’ instructions and lack of proper hygiene in using the toilet. In any other school, he would have been reprimanded, punished or asked to leave. But his teachers did not do so.

They showed a tremendous amount of patience and care towards him. They understood his background and life circumstance and how hard his life had been. So they gave him total freedom to go in and out of the class as per his wish. He was allowed to sit, sleep, read or do anything that interested him while in class. They also taught him to how use the toilet properly. Hence, over a period of time, he began trusting his teachers and classmates and his behavior changed for the better. Now he participates in class, enjoys playing with his friends rather than being alone and speaks well – he loves to recite stories and rhymes and has become so friendly that every teacher wants to chat with him!

Engrossed in work with a classmate

What better testament as to how teachers’ attitudes have a strong influence on a child? Abdul has had a complete turnaround and we couldn’t be happier to see him as the bright, sincere boy that he really is!

The Silver Oak Tree Nourishing RDF!

Silver Oaks, an international school in Hyderabad has been helping RDF schools in multiple ways for over a decade! This relationship has blossomed and grown stronger by leaps and bounds each year, which has hugely contributed to RDF’s work with rural, underprivileged children.

The Silver Oaks management and staff have created a sense of compassion in the students towards rural children through awareness activities and school visits. Each year, not only the management and staff, but also the students have been saving money to donate to RDF. They have initiated a unique programme called ‘Coins for Our Country’ – a fundraising drive, wherein students saved money from their pocket money for RDF’s cause. Other creative ways that have been employed are organizing bazaars, doing chores, creating art etc. This year, we received Rs. 10, 00,000 from the school! We truly feel blessed at the empathy and effort of the Silver Oaks community!

In addition, they also organize regular teacher training programmes for our teachers in order to improve their teaching skills and employ child friendly activities to build a fun and engaging classroom environment. Recently, Maths teachers from our schools visited Silver Oaks to interact with their Maths teachers. They sat in and observed their classes, interacted with the students and learnt interesting ways to teach the subject. Some RDF students also accompanied the teachers, in order to observe the school practices and meet the students.

Our teachers and students feel very motivated with this level of support and mentoring. The Maths teachers were quite excited about their visited and are already implementing the new methods they learnt for teaching and learning of Maths. In this way, we are working hard, with the constant support of our well wishers like Silver Oaks School, in order to provide our deserving students and teachers with an energetic learning environment

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!

 

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!

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!

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