Kohima: Education in schools is often restricted to books and syllabus without much emphasis given on extra-curricular activities, particularly those revolving around traditional arts and crafts. But all that is about to change.
A school in the Sekruzu town of Phek district has taken upon itself to introduce its students to the Naga traditional way of life. Among a host of activities, traditional folk songs, handicrafts, Naga wrestling and traditional weaving are some of the extra-curricular activities that are being taught in the New Creation School on a monthly basis.
Speaking to EastMojo, Vesalü Swuro, the head teacher of the school, said, “Our school was established in 2013. Gradually, we realised that students were not much aware about our traditional way of living. To encourage the younger generation to embrace the Naga way of life, we started giving lessons in handicrafts, weaving, folk songs and folklore from this year onwards.
She added, “We have also started to observe a ‘Handicrafts Day’ when both boys and girls are given a chance to display their creations.”
Swuro had earlier served as the women secretary at the Chakesang Baptist Church Council (CBCC) for 15 years, while her husband, Rev Vekuso Swuro had served as a pastor in the Immanuel Baptist Church, both in Pfütsero in Phek district. In 2012, the missionary couple returned to their native land under the New Creation Ministry, chaired by Swuro, which worked on three core areas: evangelism, economic development and education. Although there were no plans to start the school, the necessity eventually grew, which then led to its inception in 2013.
Initially, the school started with 26 students and two staff members but currently, there are about 230 students from LKG to Class VIII with 16 staff members. The school also has a hostel, which houses students from 21 villages and towns of the state.
While the initiative has been widely appreciated by the local people, there are some who have criticised the school for its activities.
Talking about this, Swuro said: “People out here don’t know the value of handicrafts. Moreover, some parents feel that there are too many activities in the school and they want us to confine the students to the classroom alone.”
She further added, “We had faced a similar situation when we initially moved here. The local people doubted our intention behind leaving our families and working in a rural area. But we have slowly managed to gain people’s confidence, with village elders and church leaders coming to our school and teaching handicrafts and weaving to our children.”
Apart from the arts and crafts, students are also encouraged to wrestle in the traditional Naga style. Students are also taught the art of story-telling, particularly folklore.
Besides the school, the ministry conducts Bible camps, leadership training sessions for church workers, workshops and seminars for farmers on cultivation, biodiversity and so on, for the rural community.
The couple, in the coming years, hopes to open a lower primary branch in Ruzazho village in Phek district.