Project Overview

IRCDS - Educating children of brick kiln workers

This project aims to provide education to children of brick kiln workers in 40 brick kilns of Thiruvallur District, Tamil Nadu.

  • Project Name: Educating children of brick kiln workers
  • NGO Partner: IRCDS, Established in 1986
  • LocationThiruvallur District, Tamil Nadu
  • Target Area: Thiruvallur Taluk
  • Target Area Populaton: 7000
  • No. of Beneficiaries: 1,000 children
  • Start/End Year: 2012/TBD
  • Funding Plan (Current Year): $12,250 (2012/2013)
  • Past Funding: -

In Tamil Nadu, there are nearly 3000 brick kilns employing around 3 lakhs workers.  These workers migrate either within the district or state in order to earn their livelihood by working in brick kilns from December / January - July / September. They usually stay in their work places for 7 to 9 months every year. Around 300 brick kilns are located in Tiruvallur District and approximately 45,000 workers are employed in these brick kilns.

  • Studies indicates that more than 80% of the children who migrate with their parents in brick kilns did not go to Anganwadis (Pre-school) or schools due to various reasons.
  • No pre-schools near brick kilns causes older children to take care of younger ones
  • Parents are not aware of the importance of education and do not enroll children in schools - neither in their home town nor in their migrated one
  • Few schools exist around brick kiln areas 
  • According to  K. Murthy, State adviser of the Tamil Nadu Socialist Unorganised Workers Union, in Tiruvallur district alone around 25,000 children work in brick kilns. Lack of balwadis near the work spot resulted in the older children becoming babysitters” 
  • “Lack of  livelihood opportunities in our area so we are temporarily migrating  to do brick kiln work ; Is it  a sin?  Our children are victims of this seasonal migration and hence  lose various benefits of  anganwadi & schooling  in the work places” – Mariammal, Melsevoor Village, Worker, Villpuram District
  • “ I want to send my child to Anganwadi but it is 1.50 kms  away from the brick kiln where we are staying. As I am an illiterate, doing 14 hours work daily and household work how I am supposed to help my children except feeding and extending my love and affection to them ?We expect Government to open more aganwadis in and around our work places" – Kala, Puliangudi, Worker,Tirunelveli District

The project aims at working through State SSA and ICDS departments to ensure pre-primary child care and elementary education to children from these migrant labour families through advocacy initiatives.


  • 10 Panchayats
  • # Brick Kilns: 40
  • # Workers: 6,000
  • # Children (0 to 14): 1,000
  • # Pre-Schools: 16
  • # Primary Schools: 14
  • # Middle/ High Schools: 5


Ensure childcare services and pre-school education for children less than 6 years old through the government-managed Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS).


Ensure education of 6-14 year old children by enrolling them in government schools and bridge centers under the Government SSA scheme


Work with parents and educators in home and destination districts to ensure that children are enrolled in source-district schools and then transferred appropriately at the destination districts.  Work with brick kiln workers’ union to facilitate the children continuing in regular schools. 


Create a replicable model by closing the existing gaps and bringing systematic changes in government schemes to address needs of children of migrant workers. Work with the government to open pre-schools and bridge centers when schools are far away from the kilns.

Interventions at three levels

  • Destination District  (Dec to July) - Peer Educators, SSA, Schools, ICDS, Employers, PRI &CBOs 
  • Source District (Aug to Nov) - Peer Educators, SSA, ICDS, Workers Unions & other NGOs
  • State level ( full year) - SSA , ICDS & NGO networks

Level 1: Activities in Destination District

  • Workshop with  ICDS officials, Anganwadi  Workers, SSA & School HMs  
  • Consultation meeting between the  Brick kiln Employers’ Association and SSA & ICDS
  • Data collection  in brick kilns  - Out of school & Anganwadi children
  • Parents will be motivated to enrol their children in the existing Anganwadis & schools 
  • Community Monitoring :  Orientation to Mothers’  Committee &   Panchayat level Women SHGs Federation, Peer educators and local volunteers
  • Advocacy  with SSA to open Non – Residential Bridge Course (NRBC) centres inside or nearby  brick kilns (where regular schools are located far away)

Level 2 : Activities in Source Districts

  • Capacitate the worker peer educators in order to motivate the parents /facilitate to continue the studies in source & destination areas.
  •  Meeting with the Source district SSA Education & SSA Officials 
  • Consultation meeting with NGOs  and Brick kiln workers’ union to facilitate the children to continue in regular school in the eligible standard

Level 3 : Activities at State level - Advocacy for seasonal migrant inclusive programmes

  • Memorandum for policy changes 
  • Networking with other NGOs and other child rights Networks 
  • E- Advocacy

NGO Partner : IRCDS

  • Working in Tiruvallur District for the past 25 years
  • Convenor for District Level NGO network
  • Trained and experienced staff
  • Better understanding on the situation of brick kiln workers
  • Vast experience in promoting women SHGs and federations
  • Four  years’ experience with ILO as implementing partner 
  • Four years’ experience in educational project in partnership  with ILP
  • Membership in the seven District level Government committees with 
  • District Child welfare committee Chairman is one of our staff 
  • Closely working with the district administration, panchayats, SSA and ICDS
  • Contact with the brick kiln employers’ association and workers’ union
  • Good contact with source districts

This project is funded by 'SWARAM' a Bay Area based performing arts organization. 

Educating children of brick kiln workers (April 2013 - March 2014 budget)

Activity Budget (INR)Budget (USD)
Training & orientation to workers, laborers, owners85,600$1,783.3
Learning camps for children60,000$1,,250
Advocacy Initiatives: Block, District, State24,000$500
Program Staff Salaries, Training and Travel358,000$7,458.3
Program Administration (Stationery, Audit)44,000$916.66

Workshops by peer educators helped reduce pre-employment advances by middlemen and hence the need for child labor. Many parents left their children behind in their native places so to ensure continuity in education. Increased media attention helped focus public attention on the issues. The SSA and ICDS projects issued circulars for enrollment and transportation.

  •  For the 2012-13 academic year, 
    • Enrollment in Pre Schools increased from 15% to 55% (from 52 to 242 children) 
    • Enrollment in schools increased  from  31% to 80% (from 124 to 354 children) 
  • District Level Impact: Impressed by the impact, the Tiruvallur district administration ensured enrollment of 4140 children in schools from 293 brick kilns across the district. 
  • State wide Impact: In light of the success in that district, the Tamilnadu State Government passed an order for statewide implementation. There are over 3000 brick kiln in Tamilnadu State. In effect, the IRCDS project efforts did help influence governmental changes on a statewide scale in all areas where there were migrant workers. 

To be updated soon.