Skoll Foundation


Barefoot College

Skoll Entrepreneur(s): Bunker Roy
Award Year: 2005
Focus Area(s) Addressed: Education and Economic Opportunity

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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.


  • 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
  • Barefoot College’s solar water heater engineers are trained to fabricate, install, repair and maintain two varieties of solar heaters that can store up to 300 liters of water. More than 70 solar water heaters were manufactured and are benefiting hundreds of people living in rural, remote villages in 8 states of India.
  • Its education programs are vast. One, called Bridge Courses, includes lessons prepared in elementary science, geography, social sciences and English.  Every year, 25-30 boys and girls attend these courses. After attending the bridge course, the children take a written test and join class 6 in the formal educational mainstream. Over the past 30 years, 4000 children including 1250 girls have continued attending school in the formal mainstream education system.
  • Drinking Water: Since 1986, the College has replicated the Barefoot approach of collecting rainwater in 901 remote villages of India and Afghanistan in Asia, and Ethiopia, Mauritania, Senegal, The Gambia, Sierra Leone and Mali.
  • 400 Barefoot Water Engineers provided water for drinking and sanitation to 2.8 million rural children. 1,521 rainwater harvesting structures have been built in rural schools and community centers, with the total capacity of collecting 99 million litres of rainwater every year.
  • A 2012 film about Barefoot College, “Solar Mamas,” was made with our support. You can now view it online free:



© 2015 Skoll Foundation.