Boys Town School
ST Marks Boys Town High School, with a modest beginning of 30 orphan children and five teachers by three brothers in a temporary shed turned into a catalyst in providing quality education to tens and thousands of children in the old city
Hyderabad: ST. Marks Boys Town High School, with a modest beginning of 30 orphan children and five teachers by three brothers in a temporary shed turned into a catalyst in providing quality education to tens and thousands of children in the old city. Sharing the schools' journey in the last 63 years, School Principal, Br Show Reddy in conversation with The Young Hans, listed out the achievements of Boys Town and its future plans in providing quality education to the children in the old city.
Why is the school called Boys Town School?
Fr. Flanagan, a Roman Catholic Priest started a home for the poor and delinquent children to reform them with love and train them to become responsible citizens of the state. He encouraged the boys to set up their own local self-government, electing a Mayor, Municipal officers, the court of students and run their own post office, newspaper publication etc. That's how the "Home became a Town". Fr Flanagan is immortalised in an Oscar-winning movie called "Boys Town". And, this school was also started way back in 1955 based on the model of Fr. Edward Flanagan's Boys Town at Nebraska in the USA.
How did your journey start in the old city?
Boys Town at Jahanuma was established with same motive of Fr. Flanagan's idea of Boys Town in mind. It had a modest beginning in temporary sheds, with 3 brothers, 5 teachers and 30 orphan children taken from All Saints High School, Gunfoundary. Having no resource of its own, except some 6 acres of barren land on the outskirts of the old city of Hyderabad, this was donated by the late Nizam Mir. Osman Ali Khan Bahadur to His Grace. Late Arch Bishop Mark Gopu. He, in turn, gifted the land to Rev. Br. John of Goad.
It was John of Goad who invited the Gabriel Brothers to establish a home for the orphans with a motive of selfless service to the downtrodden and destitute children. It was the Brothers, who along with the local people of Jahanuma and staff made the temporary sheds into permanent buildings. Boy’s town has reached from none to number one position and is considered as a catalyst in the city of pearls.
Reverend Brothers like John of Sacred Heart, Vincent De Paul, Celestain Joseph, James Pannivellil, Berchamans Joeseph, Davis Vadessary, MM Francis, MM Joseph, Jose Vetticatil, CA Thomas, Devasia and now C A Thomas have played a key role as the local superior and Directors in building the institution over the decades.
How did an orphanage turn into a school?
A. Initially, it was an orphanage where the children were provided with free food and stay. But, what next was the question bothered the founders of the Boys Town. And, standing true to the idea of Fr. Flanagan, the inmates were provided with education so as to make them good citizens to contribute to the society in a positive way. That apart, a vocational training centre was started to train them in small trades like carpentry and the like. Those who cannot make it to shape their futures with the education are given an opportunity to learn some skills and to stand on their own in life.
It was against this backdrop that demands have started coming from the local populace in the vicinity. As the area was educationally backward, the Boys Town too wanted to admit students from the local people to impart education and to serve the community where it is most needed. That's how Boys Town turned into an educational institution. Until the State government withdrew the school was running two aided sections and three unaided sections. Most of the children here come from the poor and middle-class sections. Now the school has a strength of 3,700 children studying primary to Class X with 120 teachers, headed by me as its principal and VC Kurian as its vice- principal. It was only after the withdrawal of the aid that the school has revised its fee structure.
But, we ensured that it is within the affordable reach of the people. Also, we do provide concession in the fee for the poor and the deserved. Along with the school the surrounding areas too started developing and now the institution is respected for the role it has been playing all these years improving the education standards leading to improvement in the standards of living. Several of our students have started their own schools. This way, the Boys Town inspired it aluminium to sever the community through education in the area. From 1990, we have also started admitting girl, to give a fillip to the girls’ education through the school and the students have been coming up in flying colours in not only education but also in all other fields.
How do you rate your institution?
Boys Town stands tall not only for its contribution serving the most deserved though education but also providing the best kind of quality education and building the much-needed infrastructure to deliver the same. The school is run by the religious congregation of Montfort Brothers of St. Gabriel, which was founded by St. Louis De Montfort. It was originally from France and spread in 33 countries with a checkered history of 300 years of selfless service to the people. In India, there are nearly 190 institutions like schools, colleges, vocational training centres, besides deaf and dumb schools, orphanages, home for the aged and the like. In Telangana, the All Saints, Little Flowers, St Paul's in twin cities and St. Xavier School in Kazipet were few to name. Boys Town has become one of the best institutions in Hyderabad to reckon with a place where children get the quality education.
How is the response from the people?
They respect the school for its role. For us, it is an achievement, we are enjoying improving the conditions of the people. Now, things have changed a lot, many of our students are well placed in their life. There are businessmen, doctors, engineers, lawyers making their mark in their own professions in the city, elsewhere in the country as well as in other countries. Unlike earlier, now, nearly 95 per cent of our students are from the old city. This change has made us serve the people here more.
How is your vocational training centre running?
There are nearly 300 plus students undergoing training in trades like carpentry, welding, fitter and the like. We take students who have qualified Class X and provide free food and stay. Along with the theory, they will also undergo practical experience to get hands-on experience. At the end of the training, they take an examination and a certificate is issued by the State government. In case of without Class X, we provide them training and issue certificate which is run in non-formal mode. The good part of it is the students also take work orders and execute them. Thus, the school earns and sustaining itself for years on its own. On completion of their training, our students are recruited by the companies.
What are your future plans?
Many people from the area are going to countries like Saudi Arabia, the Middle East to work. These days several of them are coming back. Their children study in the schools run by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) in those countries. Following a request come from such parents now we are starting a CBSE school headed by Principal Brother Monty, from the next academic year and the process has already started.
What kind of sports, extracurricular activities are there at the school?
Since our focus is value-based education and all-round development of children sports and extracurricular activities are given importance along the side of academics. Cricket, badminton, basketball, athletics and other sports activities are available for the students. Besides, there are student's clubs taking care of literary, elocution, and quiz competitions to give a fillip to the creative expression of our students.
Our students like Md Abeeb Ahmed and Md Jaweed were Raji players and Md Azmath Khan has been selected for national level under-22 in cricket. Similarly, Basheer Uddin and Ajay Kumar were selected for state level under 17 and 14 in cricket. Similarly, in Foot Ball, Md Hassan selected for the national level (Indian Probable’s) under -17, besides Md. Jahangir. Maher Unnisa was the best athlete of the school who had participated at the national level, besides Md Rafath at the State level.
In Basket Ball Fouzia played at Junior NBA national level at Delhi, along with her Pooja, Ayesha and Swetha had played in Reliance Youth Sports Meet at the national level. While Sameera selected at the State level, Swetha has been selected for under- 17 in Basket Ball. The school has also stood as champion in the 33 National Montfort Games and Sports Champions in Basket Ball Junior Girls and Boys.
What kind of role do you expect parents to play to make your efforts more successful?
We want parents to spend quality time with their children and monitor what they are doing. Similarly, parents should ensure the academic routines of children are not disturbed for too many days in the name of functions and the like. Also, parents should allow their children to take part in sports and extracurricular activities so that children can give expression to their creativity and it is beneficial for their all-round development. In turn, it would help them face the world with more confidence and take the right decisions to make a better future.