Tag: barefoot

trajectories of change :: portraits of barefoot women

Technology is a valuable input for social transformation, but the most important force is human agency and creativity: the microlevel initiatives and everyday activities of real human beings.

In following interviews the Barefoot Solar Engineers talk about their visions, methods and sources of inspiration to shape their future and bring social transformation.

For full interviews and background information, check the links on the playlist.
Scroll down for complete selection: Rami, Mangi, Leela, Magan, Sita, Shamma, Sargu and Nazma.

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presentation of the Barefoot College

Check the links on the playlist for more info on the videos.
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barefoot related videos by third parties

Interview with Bunker Roy, co-founder of the Barefoot College (by Rocketboom).
Interview with Vandana Shiva, eco-feminist and founder of the Navdanya organisation.
Barefoot Solar Engineers in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh (by Neeta Lal).
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the struggle for truth :: barefoot practical


The training is non-structured and informal, incorporating on-the-job learning while earning.

– learning from doing and mutual interaction, not through formal classroom teaching
– emphasis on practical experience; little or no importance given to paper qualifications
– the belief is that the educational system today cannot judge the worth and value of persons. Passing exams, getting degrees is no guarantee that they are either valuable or necessary for the development of rural communities. The crucial question is: can they work with their hands?
– to prevent environmental degradation and to make communities sustainable, the answer is for them to finally depend on each other and use existing village skills for their own development.
– Tilonia’s role is to facilitate a process that allows for self reliance, self respect and dignity. It is not to increase dependency on urban professionals and skills.

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nightschool kids

For videos on the nightschools and eductation, check the category ‘media’.

Nightschools are set up to give working children a chance on education. Most of the pupils are girls whom in daytime have to herd the cattle or fetch water for the households. After their daytime jobs, they attend the nightschool from 7pm till 9.30pm. The girls, between 6 and 13 years of age, reacted all in a very shy way on our visit. It took them a while to regain their natural behaviour and to forget our presence.

Est-ce qu’il se passe autre chose, quand on est dans le documentaire et qu’une femme, un homme, un enfant vous confient un bout de leur vie?
Ils se confient. Ils se confient à vous. Je ne sais pas pourquoi ils vous confient tout ça. C’est leur secret.
Peut-être parce que vous êtes étrangère. Peut-être parce que vous allez disparaître de leur vie.
Ou simplement parce que vous êtes là ce jour là à la bonne distance.
[ Chantal Akerman, autoportrait en cinéaste ]

Solar Sita :: solar cooker engineer


Sita Bai is one of the Barefoot SolarCooker Engineers. Together with 3 other women she runs the solar-cooker section of the College.
Some years ago she decided to start a 6 months training as solar panel engineer, and she continued her education with a focus on solar cookers.
Today the women are responsible for the construction of the large parabolic dishes, covered with regular pieces of mirror.
They tailor them precisely according to the blueprints of a German Engineer, Wolfgang Scheffler, with whom they still collaborate and improve the reflectors and machinery when needed.
They organise their smithy, weld and solder the mechanical parts for the cookers out of recycled bicycle parts. Their apparatus are sold to organisations in India who use them in community kitchens.

Scheffler’s Community Solar Cooker
Scheffler’s Solar Cooker – pdf

solar engineer training at the Barefoot College

 For videos on the solar workshops, check the category ‘media’.

At Barefoot College, ordinary men and women -whatever their qualifications- can learn about solar energy. Roles have to be flexible: the teacher can be the learner and the learner can be the teacher.
The whole environment is one of creative learning, demystifying technology and unlearning through processes that are natural, non violent and respectful.
At present time, 32 Buthanese girls and 6 Mauretanian women follow a 6 months training to become a solar engineer in their home villages.

They are selected by their communities to be trained in the installation, repair and maintenance of solar photovoltaic units. They learn the necessary skills to repair inverters and charge the controllers for the solar units they will look after.
Every family of the remote village communities pays a small sum for the equipment and the services of the solar engineers. As such, every member of the community takes his responsability in this ecological project of sustainable energy.

solar energy installation manual download pdf
solar energy maintenance manual download pdf

tilonia: the college, the village, the surroundings.

For a video-presentation of the Barefoot College, check the category ‘media’.

Tilonia is a very small village in the middel of the Rajasthan desert, about 650 km south-west of Delhi. Barefoot College was founded here in the early ’70-ties.
What makes it unique and different to all other centres of ‘learning and unlearning’, is its approach: it has devalued and rejected the urban professionals produced by the formal education system.
Over the years it became clear what exactly is unlearnt: the extent to which was underestimated the infinite capacity and competence of the people to identify and solve their own problems, by means of their own skills and mutual trust without relying on strangers’ skills and knowledge from outside.

Nearly three decades ago, the Barefoot People started putting Ghandian ideas into practice, not knowing weather their own ‘Experiments with Truth’ would work because they sounded so simple and yet so difficult.
The basic Gandhian concepts and principles of simplicity and austerity have stood the test of time. People live and eat together. People sit on the floor at Barefoot, and work. People in this College clean their own dishes, sweep their own floors and do voluntary work to keep the Centre clean. Everybody is equal. The ideas, values, humanity and compassion of the people are in focus. The lifestyle of Barefoot College harbours the spirit of a Gandhian ashram.

Interaction with the rural community has taught to respect the natural elements like water and sun. Since 1986 the Barefoot College runs solely on solar energy. Computers, telephone-lines, lighting for residencies and offices, water distribution, laboratory and maternity centre are run on power that comes from the sun. The nightschools for kids are provided with lighting from solar lanterns. Rainwater is collected in underground tanks. No water is wasted.

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introduction to barefoot college :: 10/01/08

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After the 7.30 am breakfast, chapati’s and chai, Ramniwas takes me on a tour around the new Barefoot Campus. Explaining the Barefoot approach, the 14 programmes, he makes me visit all different sections and introduces me to the people responsible for their section.

Everything starts with a hands on education. Educated people don’t have to be necessarely litterate. One can function on an equal level in society by taking responsability on his/her job in an hands-on way. One of the most important Barefoot approaches to get people aware of their rights and to give them information, is the puppettheatre. By taking these selfmade avatars to the villages, they construct real-life situations to which the villagepeople can actively respond and interact.

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