Barefoot College, Tilonia, Rajasthan, India.
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. Continue reading
For a video-presentation of the Barefoot College, check the category ‘media’.
Tilonia is a very small village in the middel of the Rajasthan desert, about 650 km south-west of Delhi. Barefoot College was founded here in the early ’70-ties.
What makes it unique and different to all other centres of ‘learning and unlearning’, is its approach: it has devalued and rejected the urban professionals produced by the formal education system.
Over the years it became clear what exactly is unlearnt: the extent to which was underestimated the infinite capacity and competence of the people to identify and solve their own problems, by means of their own skills and mutual trust without relying on strangers’ skills and knowledge from outside.
Nearly three decades ago, the Barefoot People started putting Ghandian ideas into practice, not knowing weather their own ‘Experiments with Truth’ would work because they sounded so simple and yet so difficult.
The basic Gandhian concepts and principles of simplicity and austerity have stood the test of time. People live and eat together. People sit on the floor at Barefoot, and work. People in this College clean their own dishes, sweep their own floors and do voluntary work to keep the Centre clean. Everybody is equal. The ideas, values, humanity and compassion of the people are in focus. The lifestyle of Barefoot College harbours the spirit of a Gandhian ashram.
Interaction with the rural community has taught to respect the natural elements like water and sun. Since 1986 the Barefoot College runs solely on solar energy. Computers, telephone-lines, lighting for residencies and offices, water distribution, laboratory and maternity centre are run on power that comes from the sun. The nightschools for kids are provided with lighting from solar lanterns. Rainwater is collected in underground tanks. No water is wasted. Continue reading