Learning from a barefoot movement


In Rajasthan, India, an extraordinary school teaches rural women and men — many of them illiterate — to become solar engineers, artisans, dentists and doctors in their own villages. It’s called the Barefoot College, and its founder, Bunker Roy, explains how it works.


Why you should listen to him:

Development projects the world over run into one crucial point: For a project to live on, it needs to be organic, owned and sustained by those it serves. In 1972,  Sanjit “Bunker” Roy founded the Barefoot College, in the village of Tilonia in Rajasthan, India, with just this mission: to provide basic services and solutions in rural communities with the objective of making them self-sufficient. These “barefoot solutions” can be broadly categorized into solar energy, water, education, health care, rural handicrafts, people’s action, communication, women’s empowerment and wasteland development. The Barefoot College education program, for instance, teaches literacy and also skills, encouraging learning-by-doing. (Literacy is only part of it.)  Bunker’s organization has also successfully trained grandmothers from Africa and the Himalayan region to be solar engineers so they can bring electricity to their remote villages.

As he says, Barefoot College is “a place of learning and unlearning: where the teacher is the learner and the learner is the teacher.”


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  • Chris Thompson  On November 25, 2011 at 12:23 PM

    Very good — inspiring. When we find the will, the way presents itself.

    You have contributed so much in your life, perhaps you have an avocation that you have resisted?


  • vinaire  On November 25, 2011 at 1:01 PM

    I became an engineer because my parents steered me in that direction. But I don’t regret it. Left to myself I would have gone into researching fundamentals into some abstract la la land. I am now getting back to researching fundamentals but with some hands on experience available.

    I would love to go back to India and work in the field of education.



  • Chris Thompson  On November 25, 2011 at 6:49 PM

    Have you stayed in touch with your native India through the years? Do you want to do this in villages as Bunker Roy has done or another path? You have been in the United States for most of your life. Do you think you are in touch with the changes in reality between the two cultures or do you yearn for the sights and sounds and smells of your native land?


    • vinaire  On November 25, 2011 at 10:27 PM

      Yes, I have. My brothers and sisters are still there, and i visit India every two or three years. I am going again in March 2012. I am looking forward to retiring in a year or so. Then I plan to put my energies in the field of education both in America and India. There are tremendous amount of opportunities there with all the technology available. This is the right time to jump in.



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