Local school focuses on teaching students traditional craftsAadharbhut Basic School in Rolpa has introduced a programme to preserve Dhabang village’s traditional craftsmanship.
A local school in Dhabang village of Rolpa has launched a programme to teach its students handicraft skills alongside the academic course to encourage children to learn traditional craftsmanship passed down through generations.
Aadharbhut Basic School in ward 6 of the municipality has started teaching students handicrafts as part of its extracurricular activity from July 14. The school has hired trainers to teach students to make hand-crafted brooms, baskets, jute straps used in livestock farming and for household purposes, and sweaters, among others.
Bishal KC, the principal of the school, says the programme was introduced to preserve Dhabang village’s traditional craftsmanship by passing on the skills to the new generation.
“Weaving and knitting are two of the oldest professions in this area, which were pretty popular in the past. But of late, the traditional skills are being forgotten,” said KC. “The school decided to teach the skills to the students so that the skills survive in modern times and serve as a reminder of our culture.”
Besides handicrafts, the students are also given singing lessons. “Skilled locals have been hired by the school to teach the students weaving, knitting and other arts and crafts,” said KC.
There are around 400 students from nursery to grade eight at the school. Handicraft lessons are given to students from grade six to grade eight every Friday. At least 21 boys are enrolled in weaving classes while around 30 girls are learning to knit. “Around 20 students, both boys and girls, are taking singing lessons.”
Locals Himala Bali and Khadka Bahadur Khatri have been hired to teach the students weaving; two teachers—Jun Kumari BK and Anita Pun—teach knitting while a local artist, Sher Bahadur Gharti Magar, gives singing and basic music lessons to students.
Both Bali’s and Khatri’s children attend the school and are taking part in extracurricular activities. “Our children are learning useful skills. They are receiving formal education and are also learning skills that not will not only help preserve our tradition but will also give them income-generating opportunities later in life,” said Bali.
Magar, the music teacher, says the programme is also helping children learn old folk songs that are an integral part of the local culture. “I am also teaching them how to play some traditional instruments. If they pick up the craft, we can rest assured that our history and culture will be preserved through the younger generation.”
Him Kumari Bali, a student in grade eight, has signed up to learn knitting at the school. Although she could have learnt to knit at home with her mother, having the opportunity to learn something new in a group set up with her friends has boosted her enthusiasm. “I was never interested in learning knitting at home but now that it is a part of our school curriculum. So I am excited,” she said. “My friends and I have signed up for the class and learning alongside them is fun. I enjoy knitting now.”
Similarly, Khadka Singh Bali, also a student in grade eight, has signed up for weaving classes. “We use easily available local materials to make doko baskets, brooms, and namlo (a head strap used for carrying loads), among other things. I signed up thinking that it would be fun, but I never thought I would enjoy it this much. The trainers are very friendly and teach us how to weave different types of household items,” he said.
Principal KC said that such extracurricular skills have helped augment creativity in students. “The children are using their minds to create things. That takes a lot of attention. I am very happy that our students took up the new challenge positively,” he said.
According to KC, handicrafts made by students are sold in the local market. The return from the sales is handed over to the parents, he said.
Tul Bahadur Gharti Magar, ward chairman of Rolpa Municipality-6, said that this programme is gaining momentum and that the municipality is also willing to help the school run the programme if needed. “This school is around 48 years old. The physical infrastructure needs refurbishing. The local government is planning to invest in the physical infrastructure of the school so that it can accommodate more students and increase enrollment,” said Tul Bahadur.