Ecoles de la Terre un jour - Ecoles de la Terre toujours !

Ecoles de la Terre un jour - Ecoles de la Terre toujours !

mardi 28 décembre 2010

REPORT AND PERSPECTIVE "ECOLES DE LA TERRE 2010" - english publication


The present report presents, firstly the structure of Ecoles de la Terre in the light of our experiences in the different centres and schools in India. It is also an retrospective of our 13 years activities at Ecoles de la Terre. Lastly, we wish to stress the most important objective of our action, i.e. the search for financial autonomy of our programmes.


We will first explain the history of our Ecoles de la Terre Association, its main development steps, the evolution of the different programmes and we will stress the main characteristics of our objectives.

After a first stay in India, from October 1997 to June 1998, the Association was founded at Versoix, Geneva, on August 18 1998. It’s headquarters are today in Carouge, near Geneva.

Until now, we are working only in India and provide assistance to poor children in the slums of Calcutta, Delhi and Jaisalmer, as well as rural areas of the states of Bihar, West Bengal and Rajasthan.

We transfer the integrality of the donations and sponsorships to fund the running of our programmes and investments in our schools, training centres, dispensaries, health care units for the pupils, the microcredit for the mothers, the small enterprises, training farms and medicine shop.


Active in India since 1998, we have firstly developed schooling actions and health care in Calcutta and the Sunderbans. Until the year 2000 it has been mainly in collaboration with local NGOs of Calcutta that we have launched and later developed the following programmes:

1. Preparatory schools in slum areas for children not enrolled in schools.

2. Follow-up classes for the pupils of slum areas in the different private and public schools of Calcutta.

3. Village schools in the Sunderbans islands, state of West Bengal.

4. Medical follow-up for all the children of the slum and village schools at Calcutta and the rural area.

We have firstly, renovated and developed the 5 schools existing in West Bengal and secondly, built new school buildings, e.g. 6 schools at slums in Calcutta and 3 rural schools for surrounding villages and the Sunderbans.

During the year 2000, after our visits to Bihar, we decided to launch a schooling project in some 15 villages in the Gaya district. Not having found suitable local NGOs, we decided to establish an affiliate of Ecoles de la Terre (EDLT) for India in Bihar. In that way, our organisation was started and expanded to other Indian states in the following years.

Until 2007, we continued to support the two above mentioned local NGOs in West Bengal and helped them find other sources of funding, so they could fly on their own.

During this first decade of the century, the organisation of EDLT took form, by opening new schools in Bengal, Bihar and Rajasthan under its own flag and the development of new programmes. After substantial efforts, we also established a legal framework for EDLT at the Indian national level. On March 31st 2007 “Ecoles de la Terre Welfare Society” was officially created after a long procedure and inscribed under the Societies Act in New Delhi.

For the years 2000 to 2007, EDLT operated at the State level, that is West Bengal, Bihar and Rajasthan as well as the Delhi Territory, where we had obtained an authorisation to establish new schools at the local level. But in order to optimise our functioning and rationalize our activities, at both the administrative and operational levels, we chose to regroup as a Society at the national level.

During the period 2000 to 2007, we have built new schools, started skills training centres, developed our medical assistance and prepared new projects; all that to establish the ground for the future Welfare Society. We mention in the following the achievements accomplished in Bihar, Bengal and Rajasthan, the three states where EDLT is active.

In Bihar state, Gaya district, we have built and established 4 schools : Camijuli and Sujata schools in 2002, Jolibigha school in 2004, Nilamati school in 2005: all of them in rural areas. Three skills training centres for girls were also established during this period: Camijuli in 2003, Sujata in 2004 and Jolibigha in 2005.

In West Bengal, on the Sunderbans, 3 schools were established : Ganga Sagar school in 2005, Srifaltala and Purba Jatta schools in 2007. Moreover, we launched in 2007 two programmes of “school follow-up” for children of poor families who continue their studies in Govt. schools.

In Rajasthan, Jaisalmer district, we have built-up 3 schools : Satyadev school in 2005, on the outskirts of Jaisalmer city; and the schools of Nanufuji and Vidyasagar established in the middle of the Thar desert, during the year 2006. We have also organised a “school follow-up” programme in Jaisalmer.

Since the year 2000, we have developed our activities essentially in the rural areas. It is in the countryside that the needs are most evident; and in those regions that the presence of other NGOs most rare!


We explain here our decision to have our own EDLT structure in India, to form solid and stable teams, in order to launch programmes with clear objectives. Following our first years concerned mainly with the school and medical programmes, we want to pursue on this way, but keeping in mind the need for socio-economic programmes to consolidate and make durable our action in favour of the children and their families.

Since the spring of 2007, we have regularly organised national meetings of EDLT Society. The persons responsible for the states of Bihar, West Bengal, Rajasthan and New Delhi, attend as Members of the Society on those occasions; they assume the functions of President, Secretary General and Treasurer.


EDLT Welfare Society is based in Delhi and registered under the Society Registration Act 1860 at the Ministry of Home Affairs. Also our Society benefits from the Prior Permission to receive Foreign Contribution of the Foreign Regulation Act 1976. This legal standing is essential for several reasons.

• As NGOs tend to multiply in India, as elsewhere, this official inscription under the competent authority allows EDLT to place itself under an official register of humanitarian civil societies. It is important that ONGs are subjected to the rules of the country where they are active. The checks or the annual audits of the central Govt. with the collaboration of the concerned State/Territory, are necessary; to avoid the creation of artificial NGOs.

• This new status facilitates our collaboration with Govt. instances concerning cooperation and development. Also it legitimizes our partnership and collaboration requests, as well as justify our future demands for subsidies.

• Because of our activities spread out over the immensity of India – our most far away schools are located more than two thousand five hundred km. from each other – we can thereby work on a more coherent way, on a stable structure, while keeping in mind the particularities and traditions of each of the States.

• This new structure allows to organize, adapt and rationalize the new programmes which tend to make permanent our projects; this durability plan is the consequence of our priority objective to ensure the self-financing of our schooling, apprenticeship and health care programmes.


Achieve self-financing in the management of our programmes has become a primary objective, with the evident purpose for the people we assist to avoid falling under the depressing “dependency syndrome”.

Also the world economic crisis of recent has repercussions on the amount of commitments for funding of humanitarian projects. If this period of time is a delicate one for investments in our programmes, it also represents an opportunity to explore other funding sources for our projects.

We work therefore in that direction. Up to today 2 types of projects have already been launched by EDLT with the purpose of generating resources in order to finance our schooling, apprenticeship and health care programmes. We present them briefly in the following.

• The Microfinance Project

In order to better fund the functioning of the schools and the centres, we have decided to avoid the welfare/charity approach in the funding policy. The approach is as follows: if we wish to promote in the longer term the education of the most disadvantaged children, we have to help increase the income of their families, to lift their living standards and so better be able to afford to send the children to school.

We have therefore launched our Microcredit programme, consisting in the granting of loans to mothers in urban and suburban areas. On one side we wish to lift the income levels of the families, through the self-employment and microenterprise creation gained. On the other side, the lending profits i.e. the interest collected on the loans will help fund the running costs of our schools and health care centres. This new programme was launched in September 2009 and is achieving a good success.

With the logistic support of Credit Watch India, based in Calcutta, to benefit from their expertise in training our staff and monitoring our activities, we have up to now distributed an amount of 2,5 million Rupees. 500 hundred families benefit from this self-employment support in the Jaisalmer district of Rajasthan, in the Sundarbans of West Bengal and the Gaya district of Bihar. Between December 2010 and January 2011, further 200 loans of Rs.5,000 each will be distributed to as many families.

Our short term objective is to achieve a volume of credit of 10 million rupees, i.e. funding for 2,000 women with loans of Rs. 5,000 each. Without taking into account the revolving of existing loans after 40 weeks, such a volume represents for EDLT an income of 1,560 thousand rupees to be affected entirely to the running of the schools.

• The Enterprise Project

This project intends, as the above one, to generate revenues in order to fund the running of the schools and apprenticeship as well as health care activities. It remains also within our goal of assisting children – schools and apprenticeship -, and their parents – medical scheme and dispensaries for both children and adults. This project covers until now 2 types of activities presented below.

(*) Training Farms

As we found out that there were strong needs for skills training in agriculture, animal rearing and the marketing of their products in the local markets, this programme was started in early 2010, in Gaya district, Bihar; a second farm is planned in Kultali island, Sundarbans, West Bengal. Our Bihar farm is functioning since last January; the first groups of trainees benefit from training workshops at the farm. The Kultali one will star work in early 2011.

There also the goal is to use the income from those activities to fund the running of EDLT Society. We plan to budget revenues for the year 2011 already.

(*) Medical Store

In Jaisalmer, we have opened in March 2010 a permanent medical centre to help the people of several slum areas around Jaisalmer city: Bhoota, Geeta, Garfoorbatha. In this last area, EDLT has opened a new school called Sunbean.

With the authorisation of the Govt., we ensure the distribution of medicines and other paramedical items; also a medical doctor, attached to our dispensary, handles the health care of the local people – urgencies, injections, treatment follow-up and so on…

We charge lower prices than other dispensaries in Jaisalmer city. Our purpose is to deliver more advantageous services to the slum inhabitants, all very poor. We have budgeted for this year 2010 a net income of Rs.100,000, which will cover part of the running costs of our schools in Jaisalmer district.

(*) Observations on these new Projects

Since the establishment of EDLT Society India in the spring of 2007, we insist on the need to ensure the means to function properly, not only from the funding provided by EDLT Switzerland, but also to make it capable of generating its own resources in India itself.

This goal of achieving autonomy and self-financing is a priority; it is evident in all the new programmes launched in India in the last years. Our will is to develop our Microfinance scheme and to multiply our new activities of Enterprise projects in all the branches EDLT in the states of Bihar, West Bengal, Rajasthan and the Delhi Territory.


As explained earlier, if our efforts since 2007 have concentrated on our new structure in India as well as starting self-funding projects, we have not forgotten to continue to expand the opening of new schools, skills training and health care centres. Our achievements since the spring of 2007 up to the end of 2010 are as follows:

1. Opening in the fall of 2007 of our first Rural Dispensary in the school complex of Camijuli, Gaya District, Bihar. This rural clinic manages 2,000 consultations every month for the people of 15 surrounding villages, as well as the medical checking of the 1,000 pupils of the school.

2. Opening of two new schools during 2008. One is the village school of Saraswati, in Gaya, Bihar and the other school is the Sunbeam one in Garfoorbatha slum area, near Jaisalmer, Rajasthan.

3. Launching in April 2009, at Dilchau Kalan slum area, New Delhi, of our Muskan school; it is the first of our schools in the Delhi Territory, where the HQ of our EDLT Society are located.

4. Inauguration in March 2010 of our first Training Farm in Nain Bigha, a village of Gaya district, Bihar. The purpose of the farm is double: on one hand to exploit the land with horticulture and animal rearing, on the other hand we manage a skills training centre for youngsters of the area, to train them in cultivation and animal rearing.

5. Opening in July 2010 of our Meharajot school in the Thar desert, Rajasthan. 120 pupils, who had never before attended school, have thereby started primary education; they live in the villages of Achala, Kirada and Lala, at some 60 km. from Jaisalmer. While waiting for the transfer of a donated piece of land where a new school will be built, our three teachers are imparting their courses in temporary locations lent by kind local people.

6. Construction of the Naba Kishalay school at Sonatikari village, Kultali island, Sunderbans, West Bengal. Beside this school inaugurated on August 15th 2010, a dispensary has been opened for the pupils and other inhabitants of this small island. Also in Sonatikari, we prepare the opening in 2011 of another Training farm besides the school.


We insist on our priority goal, on point 3.2, to be achieved: the self-financing of our education schemes. Since several years back, we are convinced that “giving” and fund entirely the cost of our schools and centres, is not a viable proposition for the future.

In order to ensure the permanent viability of our programmes – school, apprenticeship, health care – there is no other solution than to launch economic activities which will generate revenues and profits. This is specially the case with the Microcredit scheme. This activity already generates profits from the interest collected, which are used to help fund the schooling side. We are still at the initial stages, but our target is clear: by December 2011, we will cover at least one third of all our running costs.

We have to add that our Microcredit scheme has another main goal: that of improving the income levels of the concerned families. An example can show this: a group of women receives a loan for a period of 40 weeks, can purchase sewing machines and cloth, start making and selling clothes. This an example in manufacturing, but there are many other trades, from horticulture to poultry rearing, from handicraft making to small shops, from transport to small shops, from wholeselling to retailing, etc…This allows for the start or the expansion of income-bringing self-employment to get the families out of poverty.

In this quest for self-reliance we develop our Enterprise scheme, with always twin objectives; that of generating sources of funds for our schools and that of improving the living conditions of the poorer families. Take the Training Farm as another example to illustrate our approach: all net income generated from exploiting the farm is transferred to help fund the schools. Training modules are delivered to our older trainees wanting to improve themselves in running a farm. Lastly, the improvement of skills and techniques will be extended and disseminated to local peasants, for them to increase the productivity of their land and the quality of their produce, thereby improving substantially their earnings.

We intend also to associate the two programmes above, Microcredit and Enterprise schemes, in order to provide credit for the growing of crops and buying of animals.


By achieving the self-financing of our education and health care programmes, will allow us to use all the support and future donations of EDLT Switzerland only for new projects in new areas. This is the road we have chosen.

Martial Salamolard

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