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Case study of ‘Missing out Map’ activity in Tamil Nadu, India

The ‘Missing Out Map’--Tamil Nadu An important component of the preparation for the Biggest Ever Lobby was an advocacy tool called the ‘Missing Out Map’. Here, children and community members interacted in a participatory manner to create a map of their village, neighbourhood or community, which indicated which households comprise children not attending school. The results can often be very different from official enrolment statistics and can reveal interesting points about which kids are not in school and why. After the community prepared the map, the objective was to present the same map to politicians and officials.

What you will see here is one such mapping of children missing an education in a village in Tamil Nadu, a southern state in India. India is facing an education crisis of gargantuan proportions. Across the country, 35 million children are missing an education, that’s 20% of all the children out of school in the world. In a country where 350 million live on less than one dollar a day, the costs associated with school such as books, uniforms and examination fees are often prohibitive for many. In addition, the drop out rate is very high - 40.3% of children drop out of primary school early - as parents who see little or no benefit in poor quality education withdraw their children. India also has approximately 60 million child labourers making her the country with the largest number of child labourers in the world. According to the International Labour Organisation, education is the single most important factor in the elimination of child labour.

Mapping activity in Raickkyapalayam, a village in Tamil Nadu

Raickkyapalayam is a small village in Coimbatore district of Tamil Nadu. (The literacy rate in the state of Tamil Nadu is 73.47%, a shade above the all India average. Almost 35% of the population of Tamil Nadu is below the poverty line (according to India Development Report 2002, figures for ’99-2000) and almost 37% of the children under the age of 3 are malnourished. Tamil Nadu is plagued by a severe water crisis that has forced many farmers to migrate out of their land and this in turn has had a severely adverse effect on the children of such migrants. The village of Raickkyapalayam too is populated with migrants who have come from the southern parts of the state to work in factories. Many live in small houses, which are often rented, and work mostly as unskilled or semi-skilled labourers.

Gathering before the village temple for mapping

Two women acting as community mobilisers convinced the villagers to gather as many to come to the village temple to conduct the mapping of children missing an education.

Over 50% of the population of this village lives below the poverty line and the average adult wage is between Rs.40 to Rs.75 (amounting to less than a dollar to more than a dollar-and-a-half) per day. The sanitary conditions in the village are abysmal and only a solitary community toilet caters to almost 600 families. On account of acute water shortage, most go out into the open fields.

There is the garment factory with houses on either side and the village temple where the community gathered to prepare the map. Villagers collect water from the water tank. The tube-well is meant to be an important source of water but sadly, the ground water has been contaminated with dyes from the garment factory.

How was the map made?

Lines were drawn on the earth using detergent as a marker. The small circles represent the houses in the village. The process of creating the map is an interactive one drawing on the community knowledge. The middle line stands for the village drainage. The triangle represents the village water tank and the large circle stands for the tube-well. The stones stand for those children who are out of school. A village temple was also marked on the map. The leaves correspond to the child labourers in the village. Former child labourers also came forward to draw the map. The villagers themselves decided where to place the stones and leaves on the map.

The final outcome

The conclusion was that 19 children are out of school, and that there are approximately 10 child labourers in the village. The map on the ground has been reproduced on chart paper with a comprehensive key that explains all the different symbols that have been used. The mapping process began in the early evening after the adults had returned from work.

The Missing Out Map will remain as a property of the community so that it can be used to measure progress and demand accountability. It will also be used as an advocacy tool for the Biggest Ever Lobby.