Revolutionizing education with the Barefoot College

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“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”   – Mahatma Gandhi

Almost all visionaries will agree to this. It takes immense courage when you want to bring some change or do something different from the conventions set by society and world.

Barefoot College  is an epitome of this courage .  An initiative of Bunkor Roy, social activist and educator, Barefoot College was established in 1972 at Tilona, a small village in Rajasthan, with a vision of providing basic services and solutions to the problems in rural communities and making them self sufficient.

It started with few enthusiasts from different fields of education and corporate world, who wanted to give something back to society and wanted to live in rural India and help people there.  But slowly and gradually everyone started leaving as enthusiasm dies down if it’s not driven by passion. Now it’s only handled by the people of that village. It actually lives to the saying “By the People, Of the People, For the People”

Insights about the Barefoot College

Architecture : The entire college is designed and constructed by people of that village. It’s the only college where everything works on solar energy. The food is solar cooked; the entire college is solar electrified. Every drop of rain that falls on the roof of the college buildings is stored in 4000 litre underground tanks  with the help of water harvesting plant. The college was awarded Aga Khan Award for best architecture but it was refused by Barefoot College as the panelists doubted their capabilities.

Education : Special night school is organized where students not only learn what they are supposed to in any other normal school but they are also taught democracy, citizenship,  what they should do if they are arrested, how should they measure their lands etc. This is exactly what is required for rural students. They have elections once in 4 years where everyone has to vote and elect a prime minister. They have their cabinet, with ministers for all the departments, who manage administration of school. I don’t think a student of any other school might know all the ministers in our cabinet but they surely do.

Innovation : Barefoot College has solar electrified many villages across India. The college has taught hundreds of women from across the globe (South Africa, Afghanistan etc) how to make solar lanterns. All of them after going back to their countries have solar electrified many villages of their country.  The first village of Afghanistan to be solar electrified was by a 55 year old woman who was trained here.Like solar lanterns, Barefoot College has provided solutions to many such problems in rural India.

Barefoot College is a  model not only for India, but the entire world. I would like to conclude with a statement by the founder of Barefoot College Bunker Roy “Don’t look for the solution outside, they are within. Listen to people. ”

You can watch a video about Barefoot College here.

Sources:

http://www.barefootcollege.org/
http://www.ted.com/talks/bunker_roy.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barefoot_College
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