the struggle for truth :: barefoot practical


The training is non-structured and informal, incorporating on-the-job learning while earning.

– learning from doing and mutual interaction, not through formal classroom teaching
– emphasis on practical experience; little or no importance given to paper qualifications
– the belief is that the educational system today cannot judge the worth and value of persons. Passing exams, getting degrees is no guarantee that they are either valuable or necessary for the development of rural communities. The crucial question is: can they work with their hands?
– to prevent environmental degradation and to make communities sustainable, the answer is for them to finally depend on each other and use existing village skills for their own development.
– Tilonia’s role is to facilitate a process that allows for self reliance, self respect and dignity. It is not to increase dependency on urban professionals and skills.

Thus since its inception Barefoot College has trained and put in the field:

– 750 barefoot mechanics and 40 women mistries repairing and maintaining ove 45.000 India Mark II handpumps;
– between 20-30 barefoot solar engineers who have solar electrified the Technology Campus, 300 adult education centres in 6 states of India, 60 whole villages in Ladakh and 5 villages in Sikkim, 75 nightschools for drop-out children in Ajmer District. In barefoot/Tilonia email and telephone-system run on solar power;
– designing, fabrication and production of 1000 solar lanterns;
– barefoot construction engineers from the village who have fabricated and installed over 75 geodesic domes in 6 states of India. The geodesic dome is an alternative to using wood as a housing material in desert areas. The domes are constructed out of scrap metal;
– Barefoot communicators using traditional media (puppets, open-air plays) conveying relevant social messages (demand for minimum wages, right to information, equal opportunities for women, etc…) to educate rural communities;
– Traditional midwives who have taken over the preventive health responsabilities of formally trained nurses – village health workers (barefoot doctors) are being extensively used for basic health work;
– 150 barefoot teachers running over 100 nightschools;
– 3 Prime Ministers, all girls (12-14 years old) with their cabinet colleagues from an elected Children’s Parliament monitoring and supervising the night schools. All the materials like teaching aids, chalk, notebooks, … are produced as part of the employment program within the village);
– 165 rainwater harvesting tanks through rooftops, constructed in 150 villages, collecting 12 million litres of rainwater every year mostly in schools located in brackisch water areas: Ajmer, Jaipur, Sikar and Barmer districts;
– No construction engineer was employed to build the new campus. The person in charge to complete the 60.000 sq ft area is a farmer from the village that took the function of bareffot architect;
– The wiring, installation, fabrication, repair and maintenance of the solar photovoltaics supplying 15 KW power to the campus were managed entirely by village youth who have never been to college or acquired a degree/paper qualification for the job they are doing.

The work carried out by the Barefoot College can be classified as follows:

– provision of basic needs like drinking water, health, education, employment, energy ;
– prevention of environment degradation;
– technology dissemination and demystification to meet basic needs;
– women’s rights, legal litteracy and people’s action;
– public hearings to promote transparency and accountability;
– replication of the concept in India and elsewhere;
– the first qualification for becoming a part of the Tilonia process is that the applicant should be ineligible for any government job.