Kohima: From painting and covering the school walls with colourful and educative information for students to convincing parents about the importance of education, 47-year-old Swedesunuo Zao Kire, the headteacher of the government middle school Jakhama under Kohima district is finally set to receive the prestigious National Teachers Award for her dedication in transforming the school this Teacher’s Day.

Swedesunuo Zao Kire with her family

With just a few hours left for the big day, Kire, who was selected along with 43 other teachers from across the country, shared her excitement with EastMojo. “I feel happy, excited and honoured to get national recognition. I give thanks to God the almighty for giving me good health and wisdom to carry out my work till today. I also thank my colleagues without whom I couldn’t have reached this far,” she said.

Kire is the only teacher from the state to be selected for the National Teachers Award 2021.

Going down memory lane, Kire, who began teaching at the age of 23, said, “When I first got appointed, I was not much interested. But as I started interacting with children, I realised that teaching is my calling.”

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Swedesunuo Zao Kire with parents

She then recalled how a particular incident challenged her to transform the lives of students. “One day, as I went to teach, a Class 2 student had his book badly torn. So, I asked him to tell his mother to fix the torn pages when he goes home. His friend immediately responded, saying that the student had no mother. So this time, I told him to reach out to his father. Then, I learnt that the student had no father,” she tells EastMojo.

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Swedesunuo Zao Kire’s classroom decoration

Kire goes on to say that this incident was a turning point “I felt something pricked in my heart as I saw tears in his eyes. I realised it is God’s calling for me to teach the poor and downtrodden children in this rural area. So from then on, I started working wholeheartedly with keen interest to become an agent of change with the hope to make little changes in my small world”.

In 2012, she was appointed as the headteacher of the school. Ever since the school has witnessed major transformations. She informed that the enrolment of students in government schools has increased over the years.

The school infrastructure has also seen a facelift as walls of the classrooms and the school is covered in colourful paintings and educational bulletins of the academic courses to stimulate learning among the students. Awareness of the importance of education was also imparted to parents—one reason for the increased enrolment of students.

She informed that the students of Classes 5 and 8 have been recording a 100% pass percentage in the board exams for the past five years. Every year, three students from the school are also selected for the Class 5 children’s assistance fund scholarship through written examinations.

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With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, which changed the learning and teaching narratives, she said, “We have been facing a lot of challenges since the schools are closed. Most of the students did not have access to smartphones at home. Even as we conducted online classes, we had to give individual attention to each student. We photocopied the notes and distributed them to the students, we would call them and give some explanation and advice.”

Even as the shift to online education is posing a huge challenge for the teachers, she encourages teachers across the state saying, “Let us be more sincere, dedicated and change our society for a better future. The future leaders are in our class today. Instead of complaining, let us work happily for our future generation as the success of the future generation is in our hands.”

The mother of two has been teaching for 24 years. She says it gives her immense joy to see her students, some of whom have grown to become nurses, army personnel and homemakers. “When I meet my students, I remind them that whatever profession they are into, they should work with sincerity and integrity,” she said.

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