Br. Jose Valliara
The Society of Franciscan Brothers was established on February 22nd, 1901 at Nagpur by its Founder, Bro. Paulus Moritz of German origin. The young society focused itself in the development of the poor villagers of India. Realizing that education is the cornerstone for all human development, the Society turned its attention to massification of primary education in the villages by opening village schools. Soon the Society received numerous invitations from agencies in different parts of India for similar activities.
Thus, in the beginning of 1908, the then Bishop of Mumbai invited Br. Paulus Moritz to start some activity for the benefit of the poor and needy children of the island-city. Accepting the invitation of the Bishop, the Brothers established a small thatched shed, which served as their residence, as well as that of their poor students. This beginning was on 4th October 1908 at Mt. Poinsur, Borivali (W). The children were taught to read and write Marathi. Slowly skills like carpentry, statue making and handicrafts were introduced.
In 1910, the school and the orphanage (Boys’ Home) were duly recognized by the government of Maharashtra. There were about 175 boys on the roll. In 1949 the school started high school with the necessary approvals from Government Department. In 1955, additional buildings were raised. By this time there were about 750 boys in the orphanage and about 4000 students in the school, studying from LKG to SSC. In 1974 the school had a strength of 8000 students. To provide better facilities additional buildings were raised in 1987. Subsequently, about this time the ‘Plus Two’ system or PUC was introduced. In 1984, as per the directive of the Education Department, the three sections – Pre-Primary, Primary and Secondary were separated with each having its own Principal.
Keeping with the objectives of the Society; to make their target group ‘self-reliant’, in 1964 the Society opened, one of the finest ITIs of the country. Within a span a few years it had about 200 students studying in eight different trades. The Institute can boast of having received State as well as National (President’s) Awards for its meritorious training programme. The Institute was also part of ‘Centre for Basic Training Scheme’ that implemented the 20-Point Programme of the Prime Minister of India.
As a natural progression, in 1999, the Society turned its attention to answer, yet another long felt need of the locality of having an Institution of higher-learning. With industrial liberalization and globalization there was a shift from ‘manufacturing’ to ‘knowledge’. There was this sudden economic growth and economic freedom! The target group was ready for more. The Franciscan Brothers realized theses changes, the need to prepare them to face the ‘New World Order’ – which was – to create self employed/small entrepreneurs – thus reduce the gulf and make it possible for the lower middle income group families too, to draw the benefits of the industrialization/globalization. “We need men and women who can dream things that never were, and ask why not, and never settle for less than the best”!
Thus, in 1999 St. Francis Institute of Technology was started with the motto of providing quality professional education at affordable cost and the vision of developing entrepreneurs/industry leaders with integrity. As of today, it is gratifying to note that the Institute has lived up to its expectations by being one of the top of six colleges of the University of Mumbai. On the placement front as well, the institute is doing extremely well. Currently, the drive is to give more space to research oriented teaching and learning process to keep up with the times – from knowledge to developing thinking skills. The Society has plans to introduce more programmes to the existing ones in the near future, and establish a Technical Campus – and a University in due course.
Bro. Jose Valliara