The Barefoot College in India sees education as the most important factor, to help disadvantaged groups out of poverty. Its educational programme is entirely based on supporting the development of children in rural areas. Literacy is only one aspect. The Barefoot College lays special enphasis on iniparting practical knowledge and skills.
The Barefoot College works closely together (bottom-up approach) with villagers and village communities in order to make decisions jointly. Thus, teachers, parents and children actively participate in the administration of their schools. This approach has helped to change the awareness regarding education, especially with respect to girls.
The Barefoot College also works actively together with children. They want children to learn how to be involved in decision making process. Consequently, a “children’s parliament” has to be established. Children learn the meaning of democracy and constitutional legality. There the children realize the meaning of the ballot and how important it is, to elect a candidate based on his performance and not his caste, religion or gender.
The solar-bridge schools (evening schools)
The Tilonia Barefoot College finances 58 evening schools for 1,300 children in the state of Rajasthan. The objective of these schools is to enable children, who can not attend schools regularly during the day, to get a basic education in the evening. Often they are the generation in their families that learn to read and write.
The solar-bridge schools are opened directly in the villages, where the children live. About 20-25 children are taught every evening in class 1 to 5 from 6 to 9 pm. The pupils (300 boys and 1000 girls) enjoy their lessons very much. In addition to a basic education, they also receive regular health checks and learn to deal with day-to-day situations such as how bank and post function, why clean water is so important and how domestic animals cared for and bred.