We emphasize a hands-on, learning-by-doing approach and focus on poor, isolated communities in order to tackle social norms regarding gender and access to education. A deep appreciation for the Rural Hero lies at the heart of our curricula, as does admiration for traditional livelihoods such as weavers, bone setters and midwives. With this combination of traditional wisdom and practical skills, we empower children to become active participants and leaders in their communities.
The Barefoot College structures alternative solutions to breaking the cycle of poverty on the conviction that families—and especially women—who educate themselves will go on to raise educated children. Children who go to school will be healthier, happier and have access to more opportunities throughout life.
We set up balwadis (rural crèche) so that young children have a safe and engaging learning environment while their mothers work. With over 60 balwadis led by balsevikas (rural crèche teachers) who are responsible for the health, hygiene, educational and social needs of the children, this programme benefits more than 2,000 families annually.
Children between the ages of 6 and 14 gather at night to learn by the light of solar lanterns. Barefoot provides hands on, practical education to children who are not able to attend school during the day due to family responsibilities such as farming, livestock breeding and household chores. The informal environment utilizes innovative learning tools to teach literacy, democratic values, environmental sustainability, and mathematic and scientific skills.
Solar bridge schools include an innovative Chlidren’s Parliament programme provides students with the opportunity to actively participate in the management of their schools through a democratic process.
Since its inception in 1988 as an experimental primary school on our campus in Tilonia, Rajasthan, our day school programme has grown to include nearly 500 children (including 203 girls) in partnership with Shiksha Niketan school. Although teachers follow the same curriculum as governmental primary schools, the Barefoot Approach increases the efficacy of lessons.
The first group of children who completed class 8 scored an impressive average of 82 percent on their examinations. The current team consists of 15 Barefoot teachers, including four women, and the school's electricity is powered by a 2.5 kilowatt solar power plant.
Bridge transition schools allow children who have not been previously enrolled in the formal education system to catch up with their peers, then continue their education in the formal school system. In just four to six months, Barefoot fills the gaps in these children's knowledge, from mathematics to social sciences, geography and English. Over the past 30 years, more than 4,000 children—including 1,250 girls—have chosen to continue their formal education after the Bridge course, often continuing onto college.
in night schools
with night schools
If you ask Saroj what mathematics is, she will answer that math is the amount of hay that her cow eats. If you ask her about biology, she will tell you how she keeps her cow in good health and which herbs the goats should eat. You immediately realise that unlike the formal education system, which is far removed from Saroj's reality, this 9-year-old has benefitted from a solar bridge school, where children learn the necessary skills and knowledge for a self determined life in their rural communities.