The Senior Approved School Chingleput, Madras State, India

Published date01 September 1962
Date01 September 1962
AuthorRuth S. Donnison
Subject MatterArticles
In Other Lands
The Senior Approved School
Chingleput, Madras State, India
IT was quite by chance ,that, in the course of our journey
The main bulk of the food is rice of rather poor quality.
by Landrover from England to the Far East, we found
But since meat, chiefly lean mutton, without bone, is
ourselves with a day to spare in the small town of
provided daily for all except the few strict vegetarians -
Chinglepu~t about 30 miles south-west of Madras. A gate-
there were only 28 of them out of nearly 900 boys - rice
way bearing a notice &dquo;After-care Hostel&dquo; caught my eye
of the best quality, i.e. unbroken, and retaining the small
and before long we learned that there was an approved
amount of protein, is not so necessary. About three-
school for boys at the other end of the town. At the first
quarters of the rice needed is grown by the boys for the
opportunity we called at the school to ask whether we
school, and much of the vegetable produce too. One good
might be allowed to see it. The Superintendent welcomed
dish which I tasted was of thin slices of pumpkin fried
us with the greatest kindness and invited us to return the
in oil. The small number of vegetarians receive curds
following day, Monday, when we might see the routine
in addition to more vegetables.
of a weekday, as Sunday is used for laundry and a general
tidy-up and, he said, we would see little but festoons of
shirts and shorts hanging out to dry.
The boys receive six hours of instruction daily except
The following morning we returned and I thought that
Saturdays and Sundays. Of this time, half is spent in
some report of what I learned might be of interest to
school work and the rest in vocational training, of which
people at home.
there is a wide variety. If the father’s occupation is
known, a boy is encouraged to learn his father’s craft,
Wide Age Range
since for weavers, metal-workers, carpenters and so on,
The school at Chingleput deals - on paper at least -
there would be a workshop and an established outlet for
with boys aged 12 to 21. But since in India few people
the boy’s work on leaving the school if he returned home.
know their exact ages, in fact the ages range from some-
But if he shows a marked desire to learn some other craft
thing like 7 or 8 to 25. The boys are divided between
he may do so. We saw mat-making, tailoring and skilled
six houses and are allotted according to various circum-
drawing going on and we saw and heard the brass band,
stances, their physical development and the need for more
which is extremely promising and goes out to perform
or less security being the more important factors. Since
at local functions from time to time. The carpentery
there is no remand home for young people in the area,
department is under an Old Boy of the school, sent there
the local police use the school for,the safe custody of any
originally for murder.
juveniles or young people who come into their hands,
The school work goes up to the 8th Standard and there
and we saw a child, recently brought in from the railway
are several women school teachers, whom I thought very
station where he had been found by himself, who could
pleasant and attractive. If a boy shows ability beyond
not have been more than 8 years old. Six or seven other
this standard he may go to the High School in the town
small boys were on remand or awaiting the orders of a
which provides two higher classes, to 10th standard. Many
boys take government technical examinations and the
Two of the houses are for the boys who can be trusted
majority pass.
most, and these boys may go about freely outside in their
The boys have built in the grounds a round shelter with
free time and are not locked in at night in their dormi-
open sides which they use as a library. It is provided with
tories. One house is for those who require maximum
a table and papers of various sorts. The dormitories
security and these boys do not mix in their work or
provide the barest minimum and would hardly satisfy
exercise with the rest. The uniform of the school is a
western standards. But they are very much better than
pair of blue cotton shorts and a coloured cotton shirt,
the average village home would provide. A long room
the shirt colour denoting a boy’s house. But the maximum
with strongly barred openings to admit light and air, and
security boys wear no shirt. (In the sticky heat of that
a high ceiling, contains two rows of concrete slabs for
day at Chingleput I wondered if this deprivation were not
beds along the walls. The head of each slab is made
in fact an advantage.) Boys are of course transferred
rather higher than the rest, as a &dquo;pillow&dquo;. At night each
from one house to another according to their conduct.
boy has a thick cotton blanket, which he can use either
One of the privileges enjoyed by those worthy of trust
above or below him. That is all. Since the present Super-
is the provision for them of two special kitchens. These
intendent was appointed the domitories in all but the
they built for themselves from sun-dried bricks which
maximum security house are never locked...

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