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.
The construction of the entire campus was the responsability of an illiterate farmer. Without any knowledge of how to read blueprints, but using low-cost materials and relying on his instincts, he built the campus with rural masons from the nearby villages.
The installation of the solar panels, the wiring, planning, repair and maintenance of the entire system was done by the trained Barefoot Solar Engineers. Only technology which can be understood and repaired, which fulfils a basic need and lies within the control of the community should be widely applied.
Gandhi believed that sophisticated technology should be used in rural India but it should be in the hands and under the control of the poor communities to prevent them from being dependent or exploited or losing their jobs. Barefoot College deploys technology for the purpose of improving the life quality of the poor in a sustainable fashion.
Free after ‘the Barefoot College Vision’, © the Barefoot College of Tilonia.