Sanjit “Bunker” Roy is the founder of Barefoot College, which helps rural communities becomes self-sufficient.
Thank you to my friend Edna Sackson (@whatedsaid) for sharing this.
TED Bio of Bunker Roy
Development projects the world over run into one crucial point: For a project to live on, it needs to be organic, owned and sustained by those it serves. In 1972, Sanjit “Bunker” Roy founded the Barefoot College, in the village of Tilonia in Rajasthan, India, with just this mission: to provide basic services and solutions in rural communities with the objective of making them self-sufficient. These “barefoot solutions” can be broadly categorized into solar energy, water, education, health care, rural handicrafts, people’s action, communication, women’s empowerment and wasteland development. The Barefoot College education program, for instance, teaches literacy and also skills, encouraging learning-by-doing. (Literacy is only part of it.) Bunker’s organization has also successfully trained grandmothers from Africa and the Himalayan region to be solar engineers so they can bring electricity to their remote villages.
As he says, Barefoot College is “a place of learning and unlearning: where the teacher is the learner and the learner is the teacher.”
My note: What has been achieved is impressive, but to call these skilled artisans “engineers” devalues what it takes to be an engineer. He talks about not allowing MSc or PhD-qualified teachers in the college as if that has some virtue. It doesn’t, in my opinion. What is important is that the education and solutions match the available skill set – I think that was the essence of his success.