In the deserts of Rajasthan 40 years ago, Bunker Roy established the Barefoot College. Built and managed by the rural poor, it is the only college in India where the teaching of traditional knowledge and practical skills are seen as more important than the attainment of formal degrees or qualifications. The Barefoot approach, which empowers the largely illiterate and rural poor through education, has equipped its now three million alumni with the skills and knowledge to hold jobs in the modern world. Many from the college have gone on to become solar engineers, teachers, midwives, doctors, weavers and administrators, becoming the lifeline for rural villages. As a result, some of the poorest communities in India now have fresh water wells; are able to deliver and care for new born babies and even have access to regular dental care. Remarkably, the Barefoot College has educated three hundred illiterate students – many of them grandmothers – to become solar engineers, having been trained in only 6 months and using only sign language. Now 36,000 houses in 1,024 villages are solar powered.
Praise for Bunker Roy
"Bunker Roy has helped pioneer and define a global movement inspiring successive generations of innovative social entrepreneurs. In 2008, The Guardian identified Bunker Roy as one of the fifty environmentalists who could save the planet; and in 2010 Time magazine named him as one of the 100 most influential people in the world."