Vizokhonuo Rutsa along with a student at her residence in Kohima

Kohima: Even as schools continue to remain closed, a 29-year-old school teacher from Kohima village in Nagaland has been imparting more than just theoretical knowledge as she has taken the opportunity provided by the COVID-19 lockdown to engage students in her locality with skill-based training.

Meet Vizokhonuo Rutsa, a 29-year-old teacher from P Khel, Kohima village, who has been training students in her locality in the art of basket-making. A teacher by profession, she is also currently tutoring over 15 students.

“Initially, I did not think that people will be come. But as I started, slowly the neighbours came to learn about basket making. So I wanted to share my talent with all of them,” she told EastMojo.

As she continued to teach interested persons in basket making, the learning community increased as people got to know about it and gradually more people joined. Not just the young, she said that the older people have also joined her. To her aid, her siblings–three brothers and two sisters, and her mother also joins the force in training the people sometimes.

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Vizokhonuo revealed that she learned the art of basket making five years ago when she underwent teacher’s training at the District Institute for Education and Training (DIET) at Chiechama.

As she generously imparts her basket making knowledge, those training under her have begun to bear fruits for their hard work and dedication paid towards the art.

Under her care, Keneisalie Charles Rutsa, a 12 year old student who lives in the same neighborhood has been training since April. A class VII student at Christ King Higher School Kohima, the young lad has been saving the earnings that he made from basket making.

With the money that he earned, the young lad has plans to pay off his school fees. He tells EastMojo that so far eight baskets have been made out of which two were sold at Rs 800 each, four were gifted to others and two were kept for household needs.

He said that as he watched his tuition teacher and others engaged in making baskets, he developed his interest and learned it quickly. He added that basket making has become a new favorite hobby. Neck pain that comes along is one challenge, he lightly said.

Vizokhonuo Rutsa and Keneisalie Rutsa at her residence in Kohima

Vizokhonuo expressed pride over the decision made by the Keneisalie to pay his school fees from the earnings he made through basket making. With children training under her, she said that it is challenging to teach the younger people about as it takes time for them to learn.

While training sessions continue for five to six hours, she also added that it becomes challenging as over engaging in it leads to back pain, headache and sometimes becomes nauseating. She said that the time is divided between the free time.

As her student like Keneisalie emerge to be a young entrepreneur in basket making, the skill learned at this age will benefit the learners. “Even if they do not get a job, they can make these kinds of things, sell them and earn,” she said.

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She added saying that after the sale of the first basket that was made, the student invested the money in making the next basket and has been saving up to pay off the school fee and tuition fee.

While she has taught the basics of basket making, she said that she desires to teach more. As the students are currently appearing online exams, she said that she is learning new designs through YouTube lessons trying her hands on new designs which she intends to share to others.

The baskets vary in sizes and the price is ranged between Rs 600-1000. Depending on the size of the basket, the number of days invested in making also varies from 3-6 days.

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