Gandhi and the Barefoot College of Tilonia

Gandhi’s central belief was that the knowledge, skills and wisdom found in villages should be used for their own development before getting skills from outside. The Barefoot College has done this since 1971. Only technology that can be understood and controlled by the community is widely applied and used in a sustainable way to improve the quality of life of the poor.

Gandhi believed that sophisticated technology should be used in rural India but it should be in the hands and in the control of the poor communities so that they are not dependent or exploited or it leads to replacement. This is what the Barefoot College believes and practices. Thus the technology of solar appliances, hand pumps and computers may be sophisticated but they meet this criteria.

Gandhi once said that there is a difference between Literacy and Education. Education is what children receive from the family and the village environment. The night schools were started with this as the central belief.

Gandhi believed in the equality of women. The Barefoot College has succeeded in training village women in areas that traditionally men think of as their monopoly.

Gandhi taught us how not to waste. The Barefoot College recycles waste: old tires into swings for children; agricultural waste into handicraft; paper into glove puppets and teaching aids; scrap metal into geodesic domes (minimizing wood as a building material), leaves and grass to produce bio-gas; waste cloth made into rag rugs and sold.


PHOTO ESSAY :: See the college through the eyes of barefoot photographers.

VIDEO :: The first women barefoot solar engineers :: India's new anthem

BAREFOOT COLLEGE :: Visit Barefoot College and support their work through the Friends of Tilonia.


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