FTS is the organization that gave rise to the Ekal Vidyalaya movement. Today the movement is supported by different organizations including the Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation of USA.
The origin of FTS came from a project in the name of ‘Phulbani Jilla Unnayan Prakalp’ that was started in the year 1985 for the development of tribal community of Phulbani District in Orissa. Under this, 490 schools and medical centers were created. With a desire to expand their work, they invited some prominent citizens of Kolkata for evaluation and advice. The members from Kolkata visited Phulbani as Vanayatri. Moved by the poverty and living conditions of the tribal people, the team decided to raise resources for supporting the service projects for these people. That was the genesis of ‘Friends of Tribals Society.’ FTS was inaugurated on January 15, 1989 on the auspicious occasion of Makar Sankranti. The first executive committee had Sri. Ramdas Agarwal as President, Sri. Bimal Lath as General Secretary and Sri. Mangi Lal Jain as Treasurer.
Since its inception FTS has stressed the importance of education to bring about any change or development. It is education that empowers people, develops a sense of confidence and fraternity amongst them and gives them the courage to resist exploitation. To accomplish the primary aim of eradicating illiteracy, the Friends of Tribal Society started a unique project - Ekal Vidyalaya Yojna in 1989 in the rural and tribal areas of Gumla district of Jharkhand. FTS patronizes 20571 villages. This constitutes support for nearly 41% of the total number of Ekal Vidyalayas in the country.
The most important factor for the success of FTS is its system of “Nagar” working with regular weekly and monthly meetings, Vichar Gosthi and various other programs involving large number of eminent citizens. Chapters and State Voluntary Organizations were formed in different parts of the country. FTS has 30 chapters across all states of India.
FTS is now distributed amongst the North, South, East, West and North East zones.