Education for all children
The Barefoot College education programme is geared for overall development of rural children, and literacy is only a part of it. It is viewed as a radical departure from the traditional concept of a ‘college’ because it encourages hands-on or learning-by-doing process of gaining knowledge and skills, rather than imparting it through formal classroom teachings.
Lessons are focussed on raising awareness about the environment and the social-economic and political forces that dominate development. Achievement skills that guarantee a sustainable development in rural communities as well as literacy are considered important for an individual’s development.
The programme differentiated between ‘literacy’ that the children acquired through schools, and ‘education’ that the children gained from family, community, environment and personal experiences. Rather than imparting urban bookish knowledge that rural children could hardly relate to, practical examples were given from their immediate environment and lifestyle because they were familiar to them. Any rural child between the age of 6 months and 14 years, irrespective of caste, religion, gender or economic status, is eligible to join the programme in the capacity of a student.
Since most children helped out at home and grazed livestock in the daytime, school hours were rescheduled for them in the evening. Teacher-student relationship was redefined to allow both to be a source of education, knowledge and skills. The College believed that a teacher was a learner and the learner a teacher.
Barefoot College draws on the same philosophy when it selects members of the rural community to provide education in its rural schools. This is done to reduce dependency on external aid as well as reduce migration by generating employment within the rural communities. The College gives little importance to urban experts with paper degrees and qualifications because most of them do not have the patience, listening skills, open minds or humility to show respect to traditional knowledge and skills and are unfit to live and work in remote areas.
The Barefoot education section consists of balwadis (rural creches), night schools, bridge courses, and day school.
Balsevikas meet once in a month to share and update information and discuss new approaches to run the balwadis.
Balwadis (rural creches)
Since 1974, the Barefoot College has been setting up balwadis for children between the age group of 6 months-5 years.Read more
Rural children in India who look after animals and assist their families do not have the time to attend school in the day time. Barefoot College started Night Schools for the convenience of ‘working’ children in 1975.Read more
Barefoot College, since 1990, has organized regular 1 month long residential bridge courses for children, especially girls, to help complete their primary school at night schools in their villages.Read more
The day school was set up as an experimental primary school in 1988 on Barefoot College campus.Read more