The Barefoot College has harnessed solar energy not only to provide light but also as a catalyst to create employment for the unemployable, to boost income for the poor, to protect and sustain the environment by reducing carbon emissions and not cutting down trees, and most importantly, to provide self-reliant solutions within village communities.
Barefoot College inverts the formal education system by making learning accessible to all and relevant to all. We focus on poor isolated rural communities and tackle social norms around gender and the value of education. Lessons are place based, issue based and civil society developmental. We develop the idea of the rural hero and the value of traditional livelihoods such as weavers, bone setters and traditional midwives, all embedded with formal educational lessons. This unique approach is designed to value traditional wisdom, educate gender sensitive communities and empower children to vibrantly participate in their communities.
As one of life’s most essential ingredients, Barefoot College believes every community has the right to clean water. To that end, we have implemented the following water solutions to address the variety of water challenges faced in the rural communities: rainwater harvesting (RWH) tanks, dams, solar powered reverse osmosis (R/O), water desalination plants and wells and ponds for groundwater recharge
Driven by our culture of social justice, every person is valued for the the role they play in the development of their community. With Barefoot College’s programs, any adult member from the rural community-- irrespective of gender, caste, ethnicity, age and schooling--can work for the development of rural communities, as well as provide basic services and sustainable solutions through a combination of demystified technologies and traditional knowledge and skills. Supporting an ecosystem that fosters economic development and inclusion, Barefoot College has been successful in developing a wholly sustainable artisan industry that now offers more than 500 craft professionals a viable livelihood. Others become community health workers, dentists and midwives. Other jobs come through a radio station that reaches 50,000 people a day. Still more green jobs are developed within the College, with the goal of creating 5,500 more clean jobs by 2018.
A strong component of all Barefoot College programs is the element of government and indigenous NGO capacity building. We leave behind lasting and durable partners, while globally advocating at every level for the inclusion of decentralized community owned and managed renewable energy models. We highlight the critical importance of vocational and non-traditional education approaches that include the voices of grassroots communities, specifically women.
The Barefoot College health care program provides basic health services to more than 150 villages through a team of Barefoot doctors, health workers, midwives, pathologists and dentists with little or no educational backgrounds. The College has demystified medical technologies and equipped rural communities with basic health facilities. Through a network of grassroots leaders in the Barefoot health team, the Barefoot College has fostered health awareness among rural men, women and children on issues such as hygiene, food and nutrition, mother and child care, immunization, oral health, family planning, HIV/AIDS and midwifery. More than 260 Barefoot doctors have been trained to treat patients with common ailments.