Barefoot College: Solar Technology to the Poor

Barefoot CollegeBunker Roy grew up in Inda with the most expensive elitist education. After  graduating in 1965 he told his mother he wanted to go work with the poor and see what a village was like. This disapointed her and she felt he had let the family down. He decided to open a college for the poor in which no PhD’s or privileged were accepted. There would be no contracts, degrees or certificates. In 1986 the Barefoot College was built… built by the poor who had no education, for the poor. The Barefoot College also became the first solar powered college in India, operating a solar system installed by a Hindu Priest who had only 8 years of primary schooling and no college who Bunker says “knows more about solar than anybody.”

All food at this solar school was cooked with a solar cooker fabricated by the women. The dentist at the college is a grandmother who looks after 7000 children. All the roofs at the Barefoot College catch the rain and connect to a 400,000 liter tank providing all their fresh water. Children who have chores during the day come to school at night, and as the students here became trained in solar energy, solar villages started popping up all over India. Soon they went to Afghanistan to train 3 Afghani women in solar technology who then taught 27 women who solarized 100 villages.

Bunker jokes about woment being easier to train then men.

Bunker Roy later sent women to Africa to teach solar power technology to African women. These women then trained others in solar energy throughout Gambia. Bunker says we need to look for solutions within the people of communities rather than from the world banks. He ends with a quote from Ghandi: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight with you, then… you win!”

Key Principles at the Barefoot College:Barefoot College Solar Cooker

● Look for Solutions from within the Community
● Educate People Eager to Learn Regardless of their Status
● Degrees mean Nothing compared to Hands on Training
● Give the Underpriveledged a Chance and They will Change the World


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