Performance Monitoring & Evaluation

Project Mukti “A project dedicated to foster educational and other rights of the migrant children of the families working in brickfields“, West Bengal, India

Seasonal migration, for employment, is a significant phenomenon in almost all poverty-driven states of India. Brick-making is such a seasonal occupation, where people migrate to the kilns for 7-8 months in a year to earn their livelihood. Migrant workers mostly belong to marginalized communities and live a life invisible to developmental scrutiny, with no access to their basic rights and entitlements. Even children below the age of 18 years accompany their parents to these brick kilns. In this process the most adversely effected section are these children, who are denied of basic education and a stable matrix of social and legal protection.

The primary target beneficiaries of project Mukti are the children belonging to the 3–14 years age group. The general objective of this project is to reduce the vulnerability of children of migrant brickfield labourers in West Bengal by ensuring their rights to basic education, health, and protection from abuse. Various activities were undertaken to fulfill the specific objectives.

Monitoring & Evaluation

To have a general idea of the standard of living and quality of life enjoyed by the laborers, demographic information pertaining to brick kiln and source village were collected, analyzed and reported in the base-line study. The objective of this data is to get detailed information about individual household migrating to the brick kilns. It will help to provide relevant socio-economic indicators that can be used by the program team in the future to evaluate the effectiveness of program interventions.

To examine the health and nutrition status of the children of 3-14 years, standard health parameters of the children were evaluated by doctors. Since the health of the mother is closely related to the health of her children, it was deemed fit to study the health condition of the mothers as well. Hence, health evaluation based on a set of standard indicators of pregnant & lactating mothers and women in general from 15 to 45 years was conducted by medical practitioners.

A separate questionnaire was prepared to assess the awareness of mothers on the legal rights related to children and government schemes. This questionnaire also contains information on health and hygiene related aspects of the families, the mothers and their children in particular.

It is important to provide educational support and exposure to the children, in terms of imparting literacy, writing ability, number-use-proficiency and general awareness, so that even the short duration of their stay at the destination, becomes interesting and enriching in terms of actual knowledge and skill development. Here it is crucial to appreciate that there are various challenges to bringing these children into the mainstream education system. Firstly, the parents are often not sure about the age of the children. Since 74 percent of the childbirth is outside medical institutions, there are no proper records for many children and hence determining their age and age-appropriate class is not an easy task. Secondly, even if the age is known, since there is a gap in education for many, children should be put in formal classes according to how much they already know rather than their age. To tackle this complicated situation and measure the learning status of these children in literacy and numeracy, a study was conducted using testing tools in language and numeracy. The tools were developed by Vikramshila, keeping in view the age wise competency of children as per the school syllabus of Bihar and Jharkhand.

The data collected from all these questionnaires were analyzed and reported in the base line study of the project. An impact of the activities carried out in the destination will be evaluated in a selective end line report, which is expected to be completed by July 2017. The end line report will mainly focus on the education attainment of the children and the changes in the nutritional status, if any.

Utsa_ban

Utsa Banerjee is one of the researchers involved with Project Mukti. She has completed her Master’s degree in Applied Economics in 2015. She is primarily interested in fields of agriculture economics and health economics. She has previously worked with various organizations like the Tata Steel Ltd, the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) and the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD). She finds this project particularly interesting because of the complexity and the economic implications involved with the issue of migration.