I just heard a “45 year love story” about the Barefoot College. It is a fascinating, enlightening, and inspiring TED talk presented by Bunker Roy. The school is only for the poor and reflects only what the poor think is important. No one with advanced degrees are admitted. They’ve re-defined “Professional” as possessing the combination of competence, confidence, and belief. There are no written contracts, crazy ideas are encouraged, it’s ok to fail, the teachers are the learners and the learnwrs are the teachers, and they don’t give out certificates, illiterate grandmothers are a key part of what they do, and a 12-year old girl is the current elected Prime Minister and is responsible for all of the Barefoot Colleges and students aound the world.
So, of course, the school is a phenomenal success! It now has 150 schools and 7,000 students in many of the poorest countries of the world. They’ve built schools for $1.50 per foot complete with solar power that provides ALL of the eectricity they need for each school. They have solar electrified many remote and terribly poor villages around the globe. Their first campus exclusively uses collected rain water in a system that is so effective that it is the only water needed for the entire school and they can go through four years of drought without running out of water. A parabolic oven cooks all of the schools food. It was invented by illiterate women.
He ended the talk with:
“Look for solutions within.”
“Listen to people.”
And then a quote from Mahatma Gandhi, “First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win.”
Here is the URL to the talk: