Skoll Foundation


Barefoot College

Skoll Awardee(s): Bunker Roy
Award Year: 2005
Issue Area(s) Addressed: Economic Opportunity, Education, Environmental Sustainability

(Click here to print)

Bunker Roy founded Social Work and Research Centre (now known as Barefoot College) in 1972, emulating the work style and lifestyle of Mahatma Gandhi. The college focuses on demystification of technology and placing control and ownership in the hands of very poor rural communities. It is the only college in rural India that is fully solar electrified. Its constituency includes people who have been rejected by society or have little or no formal educational qualifications.

Impact since joining the portfolio in 2005 :

  • Within its programs—Solar, Water, Education, Health Care, Crafts, People’s Action, and Communication—more than 37,000 men and women have trained and worked as Barefoot teachers, doctors, midwives, dentists, health workers, solar engineers, solar cooker engineers, water drillers and engineers, hand pump mechanics, architects, artisans, designers, masons, communicators, water chemists, phone operators, blacksmiths, wasteland developers, carpenters, computer instructors, accountants and recycling professionals.
  • For the solar electrification of villages, Barefoot College annually trains about 100 grandmothers from India and 80 grandmothers from international rural villages located in the least developed countries as per the UN.
  • 450,000 rural people have light because of Barefoot College
  • 740 Barefoot solar engineers—all of them women—have been trained
  • The reduction of carbon emissions into the environment has been 13 total metric tons, per day
  • 64 countries have solar engineers
  • 1,160 villages are now solar electrified that were not electrified in the past
  • A 2012 film about Barefoot College, “Solar Mamas,” was made with our support. You can now view it online free:



© 2015 Skoll Foundation.