Innovation

Why barefoot?

All over the world the rural poor walk Barefoot. It is a symbol that we elevate to bring attention to the focus of everything we do. The College believes that for any rural development activity to be successful and sustainable, it must be based in the village as well as managed and owned by those whom it serves.

Therefore, all Barefoot initiatives whether social, political or economic, are planned and implemented by a network of rural men and women who are known as ‘Barefoot Professionals’.

Rural men and women irrespective of age, who are barely literate or not at all, and have no hope of getting even the lowest government job, are being trained to work as day and night school teachers, doctors, midwives, dentists, health workers, balsevikas, solar engineers, solar cooker engineers, water drillers, hand pump mechanics, architects, artisans, designers, masons, communicators, water testers, phone operators, blacksmiths, carpenters, computer instructors, accountants and kabaad-se-jugaad professionals.
For 40 years our “Barefoot Professionals” have brought sustainable change to their villages all over the world.
The demystified and decentralised ‘barefoot approach’ of community management, control and ownership has demonstrated the power of simple solutions.
Why college?

Because it is a Centre for learning, with a difference:-

  • A centre of learning and unlearning
  • Where the teacher is the learner and the learner a teacher;
  • Where everyone is expected to keep an open mind, try new and crazy ideas, make mistakes and try again;
  • Where even those who have no degrees are welcome to come, work and learn;
  • Where those are accepted who are not eligible for even the lowest government jobs;
  • Where tremendous value is placed on the dignity of labour, of sharing and those are willing to work with their hands;
  • Where no certificates, degrees or diplomas are given.
The Barefoot College is viewed as a success story because it is shown as an example of what is possible if very poor people are allowed to develop themselves. It is a new concept that has stood the test of time. What the College has effectively demonstrated is how sustainable the combination of traditional knowledge (barefoot) and demystified modern skills can be, when the tools are in the hands of those who are considered ‘very ordinary’ and are written off by urban society.

The ‘Barefoot approach’ may be viewed as a ‘concept’, ‘solution’, ‘revolution’, ‘design’ or an ‘inspiration’ but it is really a simple message that can easily be replicated by the poor and for the poor in neglected and underprivileged communities anywhere the world.