Chess Mate!

RDF Rollakal School has a budding Vishwanathan Anand in its midst!

Koushik (R) at the State Level championship

Meet Abbaraboina Koushik, all of 9, who recently won a Gold medal in a State Level Chess competition that was open to people from all age groups, held in Hanmakonda. Hailing from a poor family, the son of agricultural labourers, Koushik, from a young age had the grit and passion to do well in whatever he decided to do.

This deep determination can be seen in the way he approaches chess, absorbing the training provided to him the Physical Education teacher as well as his academics. A self motivated person, he was encouraged by the school Headmaster and PET to participate in the State Level championship. Unperturbed by going up against people much older and experienced compared to him, he was delighted to bag the 1st place!

The Telangana Sports Authority Director, Mr. Rajanala Srihari, commended him on his effort as he handed him his gold medal and merit certificate.

We commend Koushik, his family and Rollakal School for championing his spirit and his talent. We are very proud of all that he has accomplished at the tender age of 9. He is certainly an inspiration to everyone!

Celebrating International Women’s Day

Games for the teachers

Girl child education is a prime focus area in its vision to educate, engage and empower rural children and communities. It has worked tirelessly for the past 20 years to convince rural people to invest in the education of their daughters, encouraging them to view girls as equals, with a right to education and providing employment to women.

The Headmaster addressing the audience

Therefore, the occasion of Women’s Day on 8th March provided a platform to honour the girls and women who are a part of RDF schools. In RDF Kalleda School, the Headmaster addressed the audience about the importance of events like Women’s Day and RDF’s focus on providing education to girls in order to skill them, become earning members in their families and to do away with the practice of child marriage.

 Thereafter, the female teachers were invited to speak about issues they have faced in their personal lives and in society in order to live a life with dignity. They urged the audience to understand the biases faced by women and requested them to treat women in society fairly and honour their role in society.

Having fun playing ‘Musical Chairs’

Fun games such a tug of war, balloon breaking and aim and throw were organized that everyone enjoyed thoroughly and brought in an air of gaiety to the day. While Women’s Day is just 1 day in the year, RDF continues its work with rural communities every day of the year to empower them in numerous ways, in order to bring about changes that can create a more equitable society at the grassroot level.

Nature’s Hero

We received a lovely note from S.K. Navaz, a BPC 2nd year student at the RDF VAPV Junior College who is passionate about trees and conserving the environment. Here is his letter, reproduced with his permission –

 “My name is SK Navaz, studying in BPC 2nd year. My favourite subject is Botany. I love trees. I plant ten saplings every year. I have taken on the responsibility of watering the plants in my campus daily and I feel very happy to see all the trees growing because they are the fruit of my own labour. I closely observe my trees. There are different kinds of fruits that grow on them like badam, cherry and regu. I feel happy that students and birds ate most of them. I prefer to spend my leisure time with my trees. I urge everyone plant 5 saplings every year. Let us join hands to save the environment.”

Local media article on the plant varieties in the campus

The Junior College students and staff have been making a lot of effort in greening their campus and spreading awareness on the importance of maintaining a green cover and having plant diversity too. So far they have planted 424 varieties of plant and aim to have 1000 plant species! Their work has been covered in the local media and commended by local communities.

The change makers that India needs reside in her villages. Living close to nature, in areas that still retain some of their verdant charm, young people like Navaz can still see the degradation of the environment. Their zeal and determination is admirable and we hope their positive influence can spread far and wide. As he champions trees, we need to champion young people like him who take on the challenging responsibility to be the change they want to see in the world.

A Good Hand for Handwriting

The two Government schools in Bahadurapally that are part of the School Quality Improvement Program – a partnership between RDF and Tech Mahindra Foundation follow RDF’s best practices when it comes to upgrading student’s and teacher’s skills. RDF continues to do its work with rural, underprivileged children due to its committed education partners and also thanks to passionate trainers and volunteers.

One such passionate volunteer was invited to the Mandal Parishal Primary School and the Zilla Parishad High School for a training training program on ‘Handwriting Skills’. Aimed at techniques to improve handwriting skills for Primary and High school students, the workshop was facilitated by expert handwriting specialist Mr. Azaz Ahmed.

The school was abuzz with excitement as many had already viewed his handwriting skills session on YouTube and Whatsapp. During the workshop, he trained students in writing in Hindi, Telugu and English. He explained new techniques to develop good handwriting, including how to and how not to write.  He also won hearts by singing Sanskrit slokas and narrating motivational anecdotes to the audience. The feedback received from the students and staff was very positive. Mr. K. Balraj, the schools’ Telugu Pandit said that he loved Mr. Ahmed’s way of teaching and found it an unforgettable class. The schools intend to have him back for more sessions soon!

 

Adieu and Welcoming the New!

In the time honoured tradition of educational institutions across India, the RDF VAPV Junior College conducted a Farewell Party for the 2nd year students. It was a grand affair, organised and executed in an efficient manner by the 1st year students themselves.

Farewell note by a graduating student

The senior students were asked to say a few words about their experience in the college. What they actually expressed was very emotional and touched the hearts of everyone present. They expressed gratitude for the excellent facilities and amenities such as good lectures, provision of a computer lab and technology, a well stocked library, sufficient science lab equipment, hygienic food and water, along a a focus on sports and cultural experience during their college tenure. The felt that all of this contributed to a high level of education for them.

B. Shireesha of BPC 2nd year had this to say, “I am feeling very sad to leave this college and friends. I have learnt many things here. All the lectures were taught very well. The friendly nature of the faculty and the academic atmosphere is what attracted me to this college and I think this college is like Shanthiniketan. The hostel facilities are comfortable and nice. We were inspired by the guest lectures and their messages. I was always encouraged by my lecturers and I will always remember my college for the rest of my life.”

The graduating batch with the Junior College faculty

Every year, we bid adieu to another batch of students, who have struggled due to the family circumstances that they were born in. But we send them onward into the world, to seek new experiences, with the hope that these 2 years have provided them with all the tools that will help them better their lives and those of their families.

A Tale of Two Dramas

Today we bring a story (or two) from RDF Kalleda School on how a Drama can be used in 2 different ways to achieve different, yet meaningful outcomes.

To begin with, learning English in rural areas is very challenging. Students and teachers have very limited exposure to the language. Their struggle to learn the language to the extent that they can communicate in it well is very real. The children and teachers receive a lot of training from our education partners and dedicated volunteers to learn to speak in English and gain confidence in using the language.

The setting for the English play

Performing a drama is an effective tool to speak in any language, with its emphasis on intonation, pronunciation and facial expression. It can also make a challenge a lot of fun. Students of Class 10decided to pick a story from the Class 10 syllabus titled ‘Dear Departed’. The adaptation of the story into a play, the writing of dialogues, practicing it and then performing it in front of an audience was done entirely by students, with the able help of their English teachers.  The audience appreciated the confidence with which students spoke their dialogues and were able to put across the message of the original story and the play successfully. This highlights the willingness of the children to take ownership of their own learning, their creative thinking skills in creating a play from a textbook story, their writing skills in creating dialogues for delivery as well as good speaking skills! That was a lot of hard work put in by the children and they felt very satisfied with their effort.

The Telugu play in progress

The young children of Class 5 decided to use the medium of drama to bring across a social and environmental message about the detrimental effects of using plastic. Their play was done in Telugu and was performed on National Science Day celebrations in the school. The play made spectators aware of how plastic continues to be used everyday by most people, how it is not disposed properly, that it creates landfill which is slowly choking our planet. They made the audience aware of alternatives such as paper and cloth bags and ways in which we can say no to plastic. The kids and the audience both learned an very serious and important ecological problem and they got to exhibit their acting and performance abilities too!

We encourage the use of drama to create many relevant and fun activities for children. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the process and the final outcome!

No Limits for Knowledge

RDF schools continually strive, every single day, to put its vision of creating a nurturing, high quality learning environment through all its programs. How many us remember being intimidated by Science concepts in school, because merely reading about them in theory and rote memorizing them scarcely produced any real understanding of the concept or its application in real life.

RDF schools encourage their students to spend time researching Science concepts, create experiments and allowing their natural creativity to come through.

3 students from Class 9 in Matendla School, Nagaraju M, M. Nagaraju and Balanarsu decided to prepare an exhibit for National Science Day celebrations in school. They took some waste materials and shaped it like a boat. They attach a small dynamo, taken from a children’s toy car and connected it to a small battery. This allowed the boat to move in water. They then fixed a small switch to enable the boat to move forward and backward. Such experiences help students learn better through kinesthetic learning medium.

The students, like all RDF students, come from poor agricultural families. Going to school and learning well is what can equip them with the ability to go on create a career and better lives for themselves. All of them feel that they learn a lot in school and that it is enjoyable to learn this way. We all know, when we enjoy the learning process, we retain the learning. This is exactly what we aim for.

Prior to starting the experiment, the 3 students didn’t know how to go about making the boat. With the support of their teacher, researching the concept of dynamo, electric current and floatation through the internet and library books, they experimented and created a successful working model of a boat. Rather than struggle to memorise the concept, it is much better to struggle while experimenting, since the learning and the concept become clear. There is truly no time for learning – any time is a good time and there are no limits for knowledge!

We thank our teachers in Matendla for helping Nagaraju, Balnarsu and Nagaraj with this project.