ITWWS along with Action Aid works with Irula Tribes who are one of the most disadvantaged communities of South India. ITWWS works in 60 Villages in four northern districts of Tamilnadu, namely Thiruvallur, Kancheepuram, Villupuram and Cuddalore. They are socially isolated from the society. Their living condition and their economical status looks unsteady. Since they were illiterate and unskilled labourers. Our aim is to involve the costal Irula community actively in their self-development so the families can reclaim their rights and live with dignity without losing their ingenuous identity.
Irula community is very backward in literacy. The literacy rate is29.60% as compared to state average of 73.47%. The Irula community did not consider education as an important dimension for the well being of their children, as they considered themselves to be alienated from entire development process. Most of the parents of Irula children are uneducated and they don’t have regular income. Many of them were finding difficult to send their children to school. But after the intervention of ITWWS many Irula People were able to get stable job and regular income and are able to send their children regularly to schools. As a result more than 95% of children are going to school now.


“I am S.Rani, 35 year’s old living in Ottiyambakkam village along with my husband and 2 children. My second daughter, Adilakshmi, 17 years old, had completed her 10th standard and she wanted to continue her studies. But we were not able to send her school because of poor economic condition. It was at that time, ITWWS shared about information on 100 days work provided by Government. Then we look this issue to the local village Government and got this scheme to our village. Now both I and my husband are involved in 100 days of work and we earn Rs160 (2.3 GBP) per day. So now we are able to run our family well as well as able to send my daughter to 11th standard. Moreover ITWWS also provided financial support of RS. 300 (4.2GBP) for her studies. She is very good in her studies. I feel I have fulfilled my duties as a parent.”


A community certificate issued by government plays a major role n the lives of Irula people especially to get admission in schools and colleges and to get scholarship from the government. It also helps to get reservations in government jobs and other entitlements. It often takes a very long time to get community certificates as the government officials don’t have the clear database of the Irulas in the state. Moreover since government officials get transferred frequently, the process also delays considerably as the new person have to take charge and understand the situation.
In order to address the problem of community certificates, ITWWS organized a rally with Irula children who belong to the child rights group. In this rally, 600 Irula children had participated and 1500 petitions were submitted to the government officials regarding the same. After several follow up, 361 Irulas got community certificates till date.


I am Mahalakshmi, 14 years old studying in 9th standard. I am from Chenneri villages, Kancheepuram district. My parents go for agricultural work. I was very active in the children’s Rally to get community certificate. We started the rally from Chengalpet town and went to collector’s office and submitted more than 1500 forms for the certificate. I still haven’t received the certificate buy many of my friends have got it after the rally. We are doing the follow up and hope to get it soon. The rally was a very enriching experience for me. I have spoken to media also. I am stern that we all Irulas should get community certificate, otherwise we won’t be able to go for higher education and it would affect our future. I want o become a teacher and give special focus to educate our Irula children.


In order to sensitive Irulas about the importance of education and helping then get proper education, ITWWS along with Action Aid have taken several initiatives.

  • Initiated 26 evening teaching centers for Irula children to improve their skills and education. There are 26 evening learning centers with 689 children directly benefited. Voluntaries were appointed for each centre and 2 hours of special coaching classes is taken in the evenings.
  • Provided educational scholarship of RS. 300 (4.2 GBP) for 160 students who belongs to very poor family
  • Organized various Child Rights sensation programs for the community to make them aware of the importance of the educating their children and to create a generation without any illiterates.
  • In 26 villages the child rights group was initiated to create participation in various levels and build their capacities in leadership. Totally 689 children are part of this Child Rights Group. They actively work in their villages for 100% school enrollment and retention.
  • Organized children Assembly in 2008 to provide opportunities to explore their skills and talents and as well as to create an awareness on education and child rights. A drama was performed with theme, “importance of education”. All the arrangements from the planning, designing the program and implementation were done by the children themselves and this was the highlight of the program. 1300 children from 54 villages participated.
Due to the intervention and specially designed training programmes, the community has released the need of education. After our intervention, Irula children are going to school regularly. School drop out rate reduced from 82 in the year 2005 to 15 in 2008.

During children’s they said,

“We declare in the presence of all members that we will go to school regularly without fail.”

“We will tell to all our elders to stop school drop-outs and encourage us to go to school regularly and we declare that we would reach the goal “education to all”.”

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