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South Indian schools to be mapped with GPS

29 March 2006: As many as 56,000 schools in Tamil Nadu, India will be mapped with the help of GPS in order to facilitate future decisions on upgrading the schools or giving funds. The mapping will put all the schools on the map of the world. The data will contain details on the number of schools, students in each school, number of teachers and the student-teacher ratio in each hamlet. The innovative project has been launched by the state’s Madurai Kamaraj University and the Bharatidasan University in collaboration with the government programme ‘Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan’ (SSA), education for all. Teachers of the two universities will collect the data. Each team will have a mapping kit that includes a palmtop computer connected to a GPS receiver and equipped with Arcview software. Each team will be given the list and addresses of the schools they will survey. After the team reaches a school, the two-teacher team presses a button on the palmtop and the GPS records the latitude and longitude of the school on the master server located in the Bharatidasan University campus. In the earlier system of manual surveys, it took two months to complete a block. Armed with a GPS locator, the teams can now do an entire block in a week.