Innovators of Tomorrow From The “Barefoot Movement”

People are awesome. Bunker Roy an Indian social activist born to a wealthy family was set to be a diplomat, teacher and doctor.

His life was set up for greatness but instead he decided to live in one of the poorest villages in India for a few months. It was then and there where he decided to throw that all away to live and work in that village, Tilonia.

When living in the Tilonia he witnessed the wealth of knowlege that these simple people had. Though they have had no formal education at all, their alternative knowlege and ideas to Bunker Roy at least, far exceeded the knowlege of the smartest people today.

Roy saw an immediate need for their knowlege to hit the mainstream. These people lived on World Bank supplies and charity for every day of their lives. The village itself being rural had nothing, it was the type of village where the UN millennium goals needed to be reached. What Roy saw was that through the specialist knowlege of certain people in the village, they could already effectively solve the problems they were facing.

Why is it that these people did not share their knowlege then? The simple answer is that they are illiterate and do not know how to effectively communicate with each other to share this knowlege. It was then where Roy decided to set up his “Barefoot College” in 1972. This is the only school in the world where you must be poor and not required to be literate to enter.

The type of knowlege he has seen that these people have, is being able to build and design things architects today would not or cannot do, waterproofing a roof with simple materials and harnessing the power of the sun for electricity.

It is also the only college to fully run on solar electricity. The solar panels were installed by a local Hindu priest who has had no more than eight years of primary school education.

The beauty of the school is, it is more of a collaborative environment where people openly share their ideas and knowlege. It is indiscriminate to age and gender so long as you have come to learn or share. The goals of the school is to help others in rural villages to become self-sufficient and sustainable.

They have already impacted the lives of over 125,000 people around the world. Roy purposefully goes to places like Afghanistan, Sierra Leone and Africa to pick people to come with him back to India and go to the school, learn and help their village.

Due to the language barrier faced by bringing these people to a country where they will not necessarily understand the language, Roy has employed a simple method of communication, puppets. The teachers may use puppets, or simply rely on body language to teach and communicate.

This school has already been highly effective in the communities it has educated. It has helped rural villages around the world to become self-sustainable in an environmentally friendly way and has also brought light to those who have lived in the dark. Copies of the school must erupt across the world to help others quit their reliance on charity and effectively solve the poverty crisis. With their local knowlege, the local people can help each other and the world.

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