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Education and development while safeguarding the environment

Philippines - Children with no schooling

In Manila, the capital, 70,000 childen live in and from the street, sometimes from the age of 3. Most of them are able to eat only one day out of two. It is estimated that some 15,000 children have been forced into prostitution.

Educational difficulties

While education is compulsory and free of charge, poor children are virtually unable to go to school: their parents cannot afford to buy the clothes or the materials the children need for their schooling.

Moreover, in the absence of any stimulation at home and of nursery schools to give them a start, children from poor families often leave school after the first year.

Existing structures and direction

In order to help the greatest number of children to receive schooling, not only in Manila but in the whole of the Philippine archipelago, the Catholic priest Father Pierre Tritz, born in Lorraine, created «Back to School»: in 1974 he founded ERDA (acronym in Spanish for «Foundation for research and development in education» of which he is president), an institution that enables about 30.985 children to go to school. Most of them still work for half of the day in the public refuse heaps known as «Smoky Mountains» in Manila, so as to obtain a few pesos for their families, who live an almost vegetable existence.

Shoemaking school for apprentices

The lack of equipment in the state schools induced ERDA to establish ERDA-TECH (a technical and occupational school) with a capacity of 2,000 pupils. It is equipped to train 50 young people a year in making shoes and leather goods. Completion of the course will be attested by a certificate of competence recognized be the state.


The aim of ERDA -TECH is to enable young Philippines to learn a trade that will provide them with a decent living, in their own area, and to take part in developing their country.

Making shoes and leather goods is an activity that meets vital requirements in the country. If young people are trained in this trade, it means that industry will be able to employ local employees who are skilled workers.

After financial aid to start with, and with the sale of the essential items made by the apprentices, this occupational centre is likely to become rapidly self-supporting.

Duration and scope of project

The great majority of former pupils of ERDA, some of whom completed their training more than 20 years ago, are still faithful to the institution that enabled them to acquire a trade. An association of former pupils provides funds to help ERDA to survive in a period of major economic difficulties, in a praiseworthy gesture of solidarity and loyalty.

The amount of raw material donated by the Swiss Army will also make it possible to supply an adequate stock of leather to newly qualified young people who wish to set up their own enterprises, which in turn will be able to train more apprentices.

The WOC has supported ERDA-TECH for a number of years, and has never encountered any problems. Consequently, the WOC considers that the success of the apprenticeship centre is assured.

Budget for 2 years: Sfrs. 240.000
The first centre was launched in October 1999
(Interim report next page)