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?

Advertisements

Gratitude for Alumni

RDF’s alumni are its biggest champions! There is no greater credit to RDF’s philosophy and vision to educate, engage and empower poor, underprivileged rural children than when school alumni are able to follow their dreams and goals to a financially sound future and come back to pass on their learning and experience to children in our schools.

Praveen, an alumnus of RDF Matendla School, visited the school for a project to fully understand the challenges of rural education and running a school in a remote area. Currently pursuing an MBA, he spent the day talking to his former teachers about his life as an MBA student, excited to continue his learning journey, the bedrock having been provided during his formative years in the school. He deeply appreciated all the resources that were made available by RDF in such a remote and rural village as he firmly believes that these amenities and quality of teaching gave him an advantage in his higher learning.

He sat in on lessons with students from various classes and spoke to them about his experiences. He motivated them to work hard with all the resources being provided by the school in order to achieve their goals. He patiently answered all their queries about colleges, career and job skills required in today’s world.

We deeply appreciate that former students take on a level of social responsibility at such a young age in order to encourage their local community children.Despite their own challenges, they selflessly give their time, effort, skills and even financial support. We are proud of our truly empowered alumni who do not forget their roots and the bonds created with all our students that make them come back in order to encourage and inspire these young and hopeful children who dream of a life free from poverty.

Of Richness in Spirit and Biodiversity

This planet, that we call our Mother, needs a lot of effort and help from her citizens. Every little bit counts as popularized by the saying, “A million drops make the ocean”. We feel a sense of pride when we see RDF’s underprivileged children; living in remote and rural areas, take up the cause to help our planet. Their generosity of time and spirit makes us feel hopeful that the future is in capable hands.

The conscientious students of the RDF VAPV Junior College have been working very hard at keeping their campus green. Concerned about the diminishing green cover and the effect that this has on the biodiversity of a region, the students and staff have planted nearly 116 different types of fruit trees over the years. These trees and plants not only bring glorious colour and a vibrant feel to the campus, but the trees laden with fruit and berries are a magnet for an ever increasing variety of birds, insects and ground animals are taking up residence here.

So our ecologically sensitive and compassionate students decided to prepare wire nests and water pools for these creatures. Dividing themselves into groups, they assiduously prepared the nests and bowls and placed them in various trees and bushes. The number of birds and animals flocking to this green paradise is a sight to behold!

We believe that several small initiatives by small groups like these can really go a long way to bring  biodiversity and green cover back to a region. We really hope this kind of effort can have an inspirational and ripple effect!

 

Conscious Creativity

Creative ideas are burgeoning in RDF Rollakal School! The students who are learning in an environment that encourages freedom and creative self expression are exploring various artistic mediums in order to channelize their creative spark.

The urge to be creative and feel self expressed in doing so is a very natural human urge. Many schools,  in their pursuit of academics and examinations, tend to have a low priority for artistic endeavours. However, in RDF schools, we realize that an enriching environment is not just one with a high quality of academic focus, it is also watching out for children’s natural curiousity, their innate talent and providing them the environment and encouragement to delve in artistic endeavours such as art, craft, singing, dancing, writing, experimenting – any manner which enthuses their spirit!

Theatre Thursday has been put together by students who are interested in the medium of theatre to explore socially relevant issues. For these kids, the exploration is not just about acting; it is about using the medium of act as visual storytelling in order to highlight issues in our society that is relevant to their lives. The idea/theme, the story creating, dialogue writing, direction and acting is managed entirely by the students! It just goes to show the deep level of interest they have in their social reality and bringing it to light through a thoughtful play. Some of the themes enacted recently have been Jealousy, Greed, Anger, Failure & Disappointment. These are real emotions – reality the students and their families experience; therefore, it is very empowering for them to explore this and work out solutions using theatre. We are very proud of their imagination and effort!

Another student, Pravalika, who is studying in Class 8, has always been artistically inclined. Over the past few months, she has been very interested in working with paper to explore her own creative ideas. Of course, she has been encouraged in this new found interest by the school and her teachers. She has now made several beautiful paper creations that are on display in the school. So pretty are her designs, with an amazing level of dexterity, that other children also want to learn from her!

Both these cases go to show that when treated with care and encouragement, students bring out the best in themselves. RDF staff make a very conscious effort to understand student’s needs and provide them with the means required to bring their creativity to the fore. This is what builds self esteem, self confidence and a feeling of empowerment – essential life skills in today’s world.

Celebrating the Environment

The young children of the Mandal Parishad Primary School showed their sensitivity towards environmental issues by independently planning and organizing a ‘Green Day’ in the school.

The HM addressing the audience on the importance of conservation

The day started with a special school assembly dedicated to the importance of living in harmony with nature and the detrimental effects of managing human consumerism which leads to trees and forests being felled. Then the students led an awareness march through the village of Bahadurapally, since community engagement is a serious social responsibility that is a cornerstone of all RDF’s work and has naturally been implemented in MPPS too.

Students engrossed in the drawing competition

The enterprise shown by the children was amazing – right from planning the entire day’s activities to executing themed events on the day such as an essay competition on ‘The Importance of Trees’ , student speeches on ‘Greening the Environment’, singing and art events.

The children also planted saplings throughout the campus, along with the teachers and have taken on the responsibility of looking after the plants. A prize distribution ceremony concluded the day, with the winners in the various contents and all students being commended for their effort.

We are very proud of this initiative and the commitment these young and aware leaders have shown on the importance of conservation!

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!

Young Motivator!

One would think that the zeal to motivate and inspire can only come through years of study or life experience – having attained a certain level of learning in order to reach out or teach others. But what we have seen in RDF schools over and over again is that the zeal to motivate and reach out comes from a space of generosity, care, kindness – all encompassing a spirit of sharing.

Malyala Ramya is one such alumus of RDF Kalleda School who studied there from LKG to Class 5, thereafter gaining admission in a Government Sports School in Karimnagar. Now in Class 9, she has been selected to participate in Wrestling competitions. An avid lover of sports since she was a young girl, Ramya always had the clear intention of doing something in the sports arena. During summer vacation, she decided to pay a visit to Kalleda School to meet her teachers and former classmates. Driven by a desire to share her experiences as a sports person, she arranged a Summer Camp. During the camp, she emphasized the importance of physical, mental and emotional fitness in life. She also taught basic fitness techniques to build stamina and physical ability.

She spoke to the children not only about the importance of staying active and fit, but also on the importance of developing themselves in a sport as excellence in a sporting field can lead to future job opportunities as well.  The students thoroughly enjoyed her sessions and inspirational talks! Through her example, they understood the values of self discipline, hard work and personal excellence.

So Ramya, all of 14 years of age, showed all of us, yet again, that age is no deterrant to being a beacon of inspiration. We thank Ramya for her generosity and her willingness to share all that she has learnt with the young kids in Kalleda School!