St. Joseph's Industrial School, Ooty
|Predecessor||Paris Foreign Missions Society|
|Fr. Richard, SJ|
|Website||St. Joseph's ITI|
St. Joseph's Industrial School, Ooty, was founded in 1931 to educate disadvantaged youth in various trades. Since 1959 the Jesuits have run the school.
The institution was opened in 1931 by the diocesan priests of the Paris Foreign Missions Society to give the poorest sector of Nilgiris, those belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, a better livelihood and respectable employment as artisans. The Government of Madras sold four acres of land in Kandal extension area for one thousand rupees to St. Mary’s Church for the establishment of the present Industrial School. In 1933 St. Theresa’s orphanage was founded in conjunction with the school. In 1959 the Ootacamund Diocese turned to the Karnataka Jesuits to keep the school afloat.
The five-year course in carpentry and cabinet making was switched to three years after 1964 with the approval of the government, to expedite the boys' coming out as full-pledged carpenters and helping their families financially. In 1961, with the help of Le Missioni and "Misereor", a spacious boys' home was built and the orphanage was rechristened as St. Joseph's Boys' Home. In 1968 St. Joseph’s Woodworks, the saw mill of the school, was shifted to a four-acre plot of land in Kakathoppu.
In July 1983, a two-year programme training fitters was started with the approval of the National Council for Vocational Training, along with a two-year course for motor vehicle mechanics.
In 1999 the Madurai Jesuits joined hands with the Karnataka Province to run the school. It received the ISO 9001 Certificate in 2000, and is said to have been the first ITI in India to receive this certificate.
In 2002 the Cecilia Music School was started, to enhance the inborn music talents of the children in the Nilgiris. Four hours of class are offered each week. Students take the test conducted by ABRSM (Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, London) in Ooty. Lessons are available for instruments such as keyboard, violin, guitar, and tabla.
In 2005, land was purchased at Mettupalayam where a seasoning-plant was put up. In June 2007, the motor vehicle mechanic course was suspended due to lack of demand for the trade.
Since 2008 the driving school has been very popular. In August 2009 welding was added and the production of steel furniture, a division which continues to thrive.
In 2010, a computer course was started for women and school children, to enhance their employment prospects. Also a new boys home was built and includes a solar water heater.
In 2011 the carpentry section added a panel saw, chainsaw, and machines for edge banding, mortise and tenon, and boring. In August 2011 the fitter section was suspended due to low enrollment.
By 2014, 1873 carpenters, 346 fitters, and 259 vehicle mechanics had been trained, 75% of them from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. A month-long course in carpentry is also offered for all youth to acquire basic skills.
Students are encouraged to participate in a variety of activities: physical sports as well as short programmes on street theater, leadership, spoken English, personality development, basic computer literacy, de-addiction, and sex education, among others. Courses on driving and electrical and plumbing installation are also provided.
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