Bunker Roy and the Barefoot College Revolution
October 24, 2011
October 24, 2011
In rural India, one man – Bunker Roy – has embraced the potential of the poor and built a college that is for them. He has been living and working in the rural areas of Rajasthan, India, since 1967 and started the Barefoot College in 1971 in the village of Tilonia. The goal of the college is to improve the quality of life of the world’s rural poor living on less than $1 a day. It is constructed on the knowledge that the poor themselves already possess; its focus is on how to move out of poverty. Since its founding, the Barefoot College has trained more than 3 million people for jobs in modern society, from teachers and doctors to solar engineers.
The Barefoot College website characterizes its mission as “. . . a non-government organization that has been providing basic services and solutions to problems in rural communities, with the objective of making them self-sufficient and sustainable. 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.”
In 2010, Bunker Roy was named to TIME magazine’s annual list of 100 people who most affect our world. As Greg Mortenson noted in the article, “Roy combines humanitarianism, entrepreneurship and education to help people steer their own path out of poverty, fostering dignity and self-determination along the way. His simple formula holds a key to what nations and aid organizations might do to build a more just world.”
In the video below, Bunker Roy tells the story of the founding of the Barefoot College and how his idea of a college dedicated to ending poverty has spread from India to other parts of the world.
Bunker Roy: Learning from a barefoot movement