Friday, August 28, 2015

Happy Eco-Friendly Raksha Bandhan

Raksh Bandhan is an Indian festival that celebrates the bond between brothers and sisters. The love and the sense of responsibility/duty that the brothers feel towards their sisters is incomparable. Rakhi Purnima or Rakhi, as the festival is also popularly known as in many parts of India, is used to celebrate the relationship between brothers and sisters who may or may not be biologically related.

Raksha Bandhan is an ancient festival and has many myths and historic legends lined to it. For example, the Rajuput queens practiced the custom of sending Rakhi threads to neighboring rulers as a token of brotherhood. On Raksha Bandhan, the sister ties a Rakhi on her brother's wrist. This symbolizes the sister' love and prayers for her brother's well-being, and the brother's lifelong vow to protect her.

So, how about celebrating the festival this year in an Eco-friendly way? If you're looking for a special kind of Rakhi for your dearest brother, do take a look at some of the fabulous creations made by students of Red Cross Government Girls High School for inspiration!
We wish you a very Happy Raksha Bandhan!
                                                        Students are preparing the Eco-friendly Rakhi's
                                              Made by  Divya Sri,  Student of 8th class   (1st prize)
                                              Made by Mamatha,  Student of 9th class  (2nd prize)

                                              Make other person happy with your Eco-friendly gift!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Haritha Haaram - A mass tree plantation campaign in the state of Telangana

National Forest Policy of India envisages a minimum of 33% of the total geographical area under forest / tree cover to maintain environmental stability and ecological balance; that are vital for sustenance of all life-forms, human, animal and plants.
Telangana state government have launched Haritha Haaram (green belt). A mass tree plantation program in the state of Telangana. People from all corners of the society are expected to plant more trees in the state to stretch the green belt. Schools, Colleges, Institutes, govt. and private sectors, housing societies are involved in this campaign. 
‘‘Five decades under Andhra Pradesh has destroyed our forests. It is the responsibility of the people to repair the damage through this massive afforestation campaign. Haritha Haaram cannot be successful by one Chandrasekhar Rao, it will succeed only with public participation. We have to increase forest cover for ecological balance,” Telangana CM, KCR said to the press meet in Sangareddy.
Many schools had participated in the rallies and tree plantation campaign. Our Red Cross Govt. Girls High School students have come up with appealing placards for the Haritha Haaram rally.

That's a good move by the new government. Hope this campaign will grow like a banyan tree.


Tuesday, June 9, 2015

One word, multiple connotations

In the book Through the Looking Glass , the character Humpty Dumpty has a unique take on language: ‘When I use a word,’ he says, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean.’ He then goes on to use the word ‘glory’ to mean ‘there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!’ It is easy to think that Humpty Dumpty’s take on language is extreme, but it turns out that is exactly what we do with words anyway. We commonly take simple words and assign all kinds of meanings to them. A great example of this phenomenon is the word ‘pretty.’ Let us read Nilesh Jahagirdar's research on the word 'pretty.

Various meanings of ‘pretty’

The most common meaning of the word — and the only one that most people associate the word with — relates to appearance. Someone who is pretty is someone who is pleasing and attractive in some way. For example: ‘As the little girl dressed up for her birthday party, she looked really pretty.’ But the word can also have other meanings, depending on the context.

‘Pretty’ can also mean ‘bad or terrible.’ For example, referring to a particularly complicated situation, you might use expressions like ‘a pretty mess to be in,’ or ‘a pretty predicament.’ In addition, ‘pretty’ can also refer to size. Used in this sense, ‘pretty’ means ‘considerable in size,’ ‘big,’ or ‘quite large.’ For example: ‘He had been struggling with his finances for some time but a lottery ticket suddenly won him a pretty fortune.’

Or here is another example: ‘I bought the new TV on sale, but it still cost me a pretty penny.’ There are a few more meanings of ‘pretty,’ but we will consider one more quickly. As an adverb, ‘pretty’ can be used as a qualifier referring to the degree or extent of something. For example: ‘I may not have topped the class, but I was a pretty good student back in school.’ Also: ‘Yesterday was a warm day, but it is pretty cold today.’

As you can see, even a word as common and simple as ‘pretty’ has a number of different meanings, and can be used in a variety of contexts. In addition to its various meanings, ‘pretty’ of course combines with other words to give us a number of useful idioms. Let us discuss one of them here.
Sitting pretty

When someone is ‘sitting pretty,’ they are in an advantageous situation, or well to-do and successful. For example: ‘Many of my friends were struggling after college, but I had just started my first job, so I was sitting pretty.’ Similarly: ‘Most people struggled as the country went into a depression after the war, but the rich landowners were all sitting pretty.’

This article was originally posted in The Hindu 

Thursday, May 28, 2015

A Hobby can enhance our well being

Not all of the humankind is gifted with the entire talents, clubbed together; they vary from one to another. From the childhood, parents like the children to be educated to the extremes but eventually most of the parents find their children unable to cope up with the education system but finds them participating in various activities such as involving themselves in sports, drawing/ painting, singing, playing instruments mechanical fields, photography, gardening, water sports and acting in movies etc... These are some inborn talents that pop up during the stream of education which need to be polished and nourished and most of all; they need the right encouragement to develop those hobbies into real skills.
A hobby is an activity you enjoy doing. It is something you do out of your own choice, something unique to your taste and talent. A hobby can enhance our well-being and can give meaning to our life. Just as physical exercise is important for the body, relaxing the mind is also essential. We need a balance in life. Work life can be quiet hectic and everybody needs some sort of activity to relieve their stress. 

Hobby is not inborn inclination. It is developed through a constant effort. Hobbies play an important role in developing one's personality. People tend to become very mechanical if he or she does their routine work throw out the day so every person should have a hobby to keep himself active physically as well as mentally. Hobbies will enhance self-esteem and confidence. Most of the people depend upon external sources of pleasure and entertainment like: watching serials, movies, entertaining in gossiping and friends, but a hobby is something we do with an urge from within. We cannot always look on to others for relaxing or spending our free time. We should spend our precious time in doing something creative that would be beneficial for individual as well as the society around us.
                                                                                    Benefits of having hobbies:
  • Stress relief
  • Boosts self-esteem
  • Hobbies have physical health benefits
  • Hobbies make you happier
  • Hobbies helps in gaining knowledge 
  • Hobbies are great way to make new friends and improve social skills
  • Fun
  • You will learn new things
  • Potential to make extra money

A list of some hobbies for adopting
  • Singing
  • Gardening
  • Sports 
  • Yoga 
  • Collecting stamps
  • Skating
  • Cooking
  • Photography 
  • Reading 
  • Blogging
  • Playing instruments
  • Knitting
  • Drawing
Getting in to physical activities promotes good health and having hobby allows you to acquire new skills and discover hidden talents. Cultivating hobbies will eventually lead you to meeting new people and you will find new friends while implanting your hobbies. There are numerous hobbies, choose one and whatever activity you choose, it will surely result to your advantage. Even if you do not have a hobby, do make the effort to develop one, it will improve your quality of life.


Monday, May 11, 2015

EFF in Indian Startups

It's a proud moment for us, Education For Free has been featured in; an online start up news portal that serves and highlight emerging startups.
Syed Sirajuddin described EFF  in simple yet powerful lines. He described how EFF is trying to reach the fundamental right, 'Right to Education' through our innovate approach 'Virtual classroom'. He also added comments of volunteers shared with us. On behalf of EFF we thank Sirajuddin for a good write-up.
Read full article here -

Friday, April 24, 2015

Parents must maintain Equilibrium in Raising a Child as in Giving Birth to a Child!

Into this peaceful, pleasant and perfect world that God created, evil entered in various ways. And perfection resulted in imperfection which is manifested in personal grief, lack of hope, faith and trust and the loss of safety and security of human life. Among all these, child sexual abuse is the most heinous evil that has been creeping into the minds of people of all ages, and it has ruined moral values and ethical life both in the family and society. 
Lustful feelings and selfishness of man led human life to go through painful experiences, and much of it occur in childhood itself.  Caretakers alone are sometimes unable to protect children from painful experiences. Statistics presented by various organizations working with children indicate that more than half the populations of Indian children suffer from child sexual abuse in one form or other.
Sexual abuse is when any person, young, adult or child forces, tricks, threatens, or coerces a child to have sexual contact with him or her for the benefit of personal sexual excitement and satisfaction. Showing children pornographic pictures or films or telling them explicitly sexual stories can be a form of sexual abuse. Some children are forced or encouraged to have sexual contact or intercourse with parents, uncles, grandparents, friends of the family, and servants in the house. Other children have sexual contacts with strangers. Most of the times one’s own family members make one the victim of child sexual abuse but unfortunately parents are unable to understand the children because  lack of knowledge, ignorance, illiteracy, fear of shame etc…  At times parents become only the birth givers not caretakers. Nowadays most of the parents are busy working in the fields or at offices leaving their children at home with someone or servants in the house.
Most parents think that they should give the best to their children which make them keep earning money to give entertainment and excitement through toys, dresses and all the material goods. However, they forget the importance of caring for their children. Very often the negligence of children by their parents becomes the root cause of the horrible experience of sexual abuse in childhood. The literature that I have read on child sexual abuse, the personal testimonies of survivors of child sexual abuse and the experiences that people have shared personally with me make me conclude that this is a reality which many face in today’s world.

How to respond to a possible situation of sexual abuse: 

     If your child says that she/he does not want to play with uncle / cousin / servant / brother etc… you need to pick up what the child wants to say, but is unable to say.  The child may be trying to tell you that it is the victim of sexual abuse.  She/he may say that uncle is not good or he is bad. In such situations DO NOT scold the child or punish the child and defend the good character of the uncle.  The child knows only the word “bad” and nothing more.   Stay with the feeling of the child, and help her or him to speak out more in a very gentle and non-intrusive way.  You may take for granted that your child may be in a situation of sexual abuse. It is here that you need to believe your child. DO NOT believe the uncle or cousin or play down what your child says.  You may be missing out the ONLY chance to protect your ONLY child.
      The child may say that uncle did something bad to me.  In such or similar situations you may ask the child whether he touched her / him and whether that made her / him feel not good. Allow the child to use her / his expressions and feelings.   It is of utmost importance that you communicate to your child that she / he is far more precious to you than the uncle or cousin. A sense of security, homeliness, trust needs to be communicated to the child.  If your child is made a victim of sexual abuse, then you are the BEST healer for her or him.  The process of healing will have begun from the time the child feels unthreatened and protected by you.
    The next step in the process of dealing with possible abuse is to make the child feel that no matter what has happened she / he is still your dearest and best one.  Help the child feel that she / he is still good and that for you she / he matters much.  These words have meaning only if you avoid everything that would make the child feel negative about her or him.
NEVER BLAME OR PUNISH THE CHILD.  Parents are in the habit of blaming the child for whatever may go wrong because it is easier to blame the child than the adult. Besides, the child cannot defend itself.  In no way your child is responsible for what has happened (assuming something has gone wrong).  Never say: ‘You are a bad girl’ or ‘You are a bad boy’.  To be labeled as bad for innocent behavior is the greatest harm one can do to a child.  Ensure that the so called ‘uncle’ or ‘cousin’ is blamed and the child should be helped to think and feel that it has done no wrong.  The blame is to go totally and entirely to the perpetrator.  
      Ask the child whether she / he would like a change.  For example a change in the driver who transports her / him to the school; the shopkeeper who regularly supplies the stationery; the teacher who takes tuition; the kitchen girl who prepares the food etc…  Remember the perpetrator of the crime is very close to the child and is a confidant.
      Ensure the safety of the child in all contexts.  If need be, change the location where the child frequents or the school that she / he frequents. Protect the privacy of the child as much as possible.  It is of utmost importance that no one gets a chance to make the child feel bad, sad and ashamed.  No matter how good your intention is.
     REMEMBER, there is no one who is as capable and competent as you, the parent, to bring the original innocence back to the child.  She or he can be totally and completely made well, in case sexual abuse has taken place, provided you stay with the child with all the love you can pour out on her /him.
Finally believe in your child. Children usually do not lie.

       Image source: www.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A day in the school with techies

Early morning three hours ride to the country side rejuvenate our senses isn't it? March first week, spring season dressed in its green gown. The beautiful climate welcomed us all the way to the school.
Academic year is coming to conclude in less than a month, it's time  to visit our rural school, ZPHS Gandeed to evaluate their learning through virtual classroom. We made it on 7th March '15 along with a new set of volunteers working in different professions.

We were excited to see the pupils after five months; though we daily interact them in virtual classroom. Inspite of Holi festival prior day, more than 80% pupils turned up to school on Saturday. That makes our teaching unique.

Volunteers were thrilled to meet the pupils, they spent the whole day in their assigned class. Experience in their own words...
"When I talked to these pupils I was really amazed and wondered that they are really good in English. They have learned a lot from virtual class teaching. EFF has given them good opportunity from what they're learning from their regular syllabus. Moreover, they said an interesting line on me - 'this is the first time we're talking to a Punjabi guy, you are literally awesome'. These words made my day." - Supreet Singh, Design Manager at PurpleTalk

"I got the opportunity to teach the 7th class students through EFF. Before going there my thoughts were like, ‘You are going to a govt school and do not expect much from their side’.
But they proved me wrong and I am very happy for that.
They are poor in English but very enthusiastic, not afraid to express what they know and made my life hard with missiles like questions flying from all around. They have appetite for learning. 
Thank you EFF for making them wonder kids. I can feel all the efforts you have put in when I stood between them.
All the best.
And thank you for giving me the opportunity to teach as well as learn. " - Manohar Krishna, Director & CEO, Creative Bite Digital studio  

"It was an extraordinary experience for me to teach small kids. I was amazed to meet those kids and see how enthusiastic they were to learn the new things through online education system introduced by EFF. After meeting the students, I couldn't judge if they were the students of some govt. school in some village. This kind of initiatives can give a new shape to our Indian education system. Keep it up EFF"- Harsimran Kaur, Freelance designer, sewer & home maker

"Some of the students looked passive, but when I asked questions they answered with full explanation, it was beyond my expectations. I taught them how to give presentation using the resources available-like piece of chalk and black board. I was amazed to see a boy how well he implemented my words. Pupils need this kind of platform to inspire, they'll automatically become good citizen. There is something lacking in this 8th Std, but they're putting good efforts in English-speaking skills.This is the first time I am in between kids, it's wonderful experience; I really learned a lot from them, looking forward to teach and learn from these innocent and smart champs." - Shiva Dasoju, SSE-QA, PurpleTalk

"I dealt with 7th Telugu Medium students. Praveeen, Ravi, Mahesh, Mahendra, Yadaiah have been the best performers." - Nagaraju, SE-Dev at PurpleTalk'

Volunteers are the key resource for a non-profit organisation. On behalf of EFF, we express our gratefulnes to all these techies for making our evaluation easier. A part from it, hanging out with you guys was great fun for the pupils :)

Monday, March 30, 2015

HYSEA Annual Summit & Awards 2015

For the second time EFF has been nominated to HYSEA Awards 2015 under social impact category. It's a wonderful platform showcasing innovative designs and products.

EFF stall been attractive one, a lot of people visited us and enrolled as volunteers.

 ZenQ employees, interested in volunteering as teachers

Teach For India (TFI) fellows at EFF stall

With PurpleTalk family!

Governor, ESL.Narsimhan, addressing the HYSEA summit

To be a part of this event was a great experience, we didn't bag the award though. Met so many people from different backgrounds, learned their innovation, amazed to see the products designed by the students, it's out and out a good expo for every individual. 

Some interesting startups spotted in the event... is one of the winner under social impact category. It's a great initiative by the young lads of class X and XII.

Friday, March 20, 2015

A new take on evaluation, CCE pattern in the state of Telangana

Exams are here. Mug-up, by heart, memorize and reproduce in the exam. After all, we need good figures at the end of the academic year.Education in those days was figures in the progress card. If you get 95% marks you are the best student in the school.
I used to study the whole year day and night, and get just pass marks, where as my friends who study just a month before exams used to get excellent scores. Evaluation was merely concerned with facts delivered in the paper. Is this a right way to evaluate learning...?

The revolutionary change in the evaluation system has brought by the centre through CCE - Continuous Comprehensive Evaluation pattern. This enable the teacher to overlook all the qualities of the pupil through out the year. Starting from daily assignments, projects, oral and written tests, non-scholastic such as behavior, games, etc are counted in CCE pattern.
This is the first time for the state of Telangana implementing CCE pattern full fledged. Of course, they've come up with few more modifications in the CCE pattern.

Few highlights -
  • It's not semester model
  • 80 marks for written exam and 20 marks for internal assessment(projects, home works etc)
  • Questions are designed in such a way to test seven skills of the kid - information, communication, appreciation, aesthetic sense, application to daily life, experimentation, field investigation
  • Questions given at the end of the text book will not be seen the exam. Instead they're asked in different scenarios.
  • In evaluation, teachers should consider all the answers from students' point of view
There are so many questions arising in every nook and corner. Teachers got used to stereo type evaluation, this model will perhaps give space for bias in evaluation. Students got used to by-heart the content, they feel like out of water to answer application model questions. One should have minimum writing skills to answer an application model question. Few teachers argue, pupils of tenth standard will undergo mental trauma to digest this pattern as they got used to traditional model.

A small survey conducted in some schools, here is teachers' view on the new CCE pattern -

Related links:

Monday, February 23, 2015

Mobile Science Lab - A step towards quality science education

Schools are the learning temples. Pupils learn everything from their mini society, school. Science is an important subject for every grade. The subject science is meant for practicality, hands on experience. Teachers can give good explanation of the science experiment, but it is not 100% instruction until the child is taken to the laboratory to perform a live experiment. Do our schools (government) have science labs?
 To my surprise I had seen a team of youngsters wearing aprons performing live experiments in 9th classroom at Govt. Girls High School Red Cross. The team is from Mobile Science Lab. They were carrying experiment kits related to chemistry, biology and physics. Pupils were excited to participate in executing the experiments, holding the glass jars with chemicals, watching the reactions live was much fun for them.
Mobile Science Lab (MSL) is an initiative of Sahayata Trust, supported by Tech Mahindra Foundation. MSL started in the year 2011, works for the quality science education in India. "Schools in Hyderabad, regardless private or government are running without science laboratories. Schools are busy inducing the syllabus to the little brains, how can they spare time for science experiments", says the founder of Mobile Science Lab, Mr. Lateef Atear. According to NKC (National Knowledge commission) majority of the employees prefer to work in multinational companies relating to IT industry, finance etc., People in India are hardly taking up research as their career. The problem starts at schools, as chalk & talk method do not create interest in the subjects like science. Science is a lively subject, experiments and field trips are the ways we can acquire the subject through. Unfortunately, our education system is concerned with cognitive skills with little or no importance given to the application.

Affording a science laboratory and maintaining it is not an easy task for every school. The solution is Mobile Science lab! The lab moves from school to school; educates the pupils in practicality of the subject.
MSL focuses on gaining knowledge through research. Scientific learning is tied directly to state learning standards (essential knowledge and skills) and is scheduled so that teachers have time to take up new concepts and design ways to transfer the essential concepts to their students on a regular basis.
MSL tied up with 18 government schools in Hyderabad. They make nine visits to each school in a particular academic year.  They shows live experiments in physics, chemistry, biology, astronomy etc. Startups like these nurture the little scientist in every student. Govt. should take up this initiative in a big scale, and ensure the service for more schools.

For more information about MSL visit: