Question: Name a program that educates poor women and girls, reduces poverty, and promotes the use of sustainable, environmentally friendly solar energy.
The answer as you have probably guessed from the title is Barefoot College in India. Founded in 1972 by Bunker Roy, Barefoot College draws students, mostly illiterate women from developing countries and in as little as six months turns then into engineers capable of solar electrifying a village.
Barefoot College places a priority on training rural women. Mr. Roy says, “We’ve come to the sad conclusion men are untrainable. They expect too much. They are restless. If they’re young, they’re impatient. The first thing they ask even before the training starts is, do I get a certificate? They will use that certificate to get the worst job possible in a city, whereas if we take middle-aged grandmothers to be trained I don’t have that problem of migration.”
Graduates of Barefoot College are able to earn extra income for their families, have improved status in their homes and communities, provide a clean, sustainable energy source for their communities and are more likely to insist on education for their daughters.
Solar has opened new opportunities for work and study especially for girls. Girls are often kept out of school to perform household chores. Solar energy has made night schools for girls possible.
Funded by the UN and private foundations Barefoot College has solar electrified some 350 villages across India and dozens more in sub-Saharan Africa and even war-torn Afghanistan.