A beacon of light in the darkness

Twinkling like the brightest stars in the universe, these innocent yet eager eyes peered through the darkness. Lit by the solar lamps, the room illuminated and came into life. That is the Night School at the Barefoot College. 

Bunker Roy is an Indian educator and who was selected by TIME as one of the most influential personalities in 2010. He founded Barefoot College and devised an ingenious curriculum and system for both the poor children and the illiterates in India. His teaching and influence spread to Afghanistan and Africa and benefit the locals there. Creating a self-reliant community is the vision that Bunker Roy aims to achieve for India through his Barefoot College.

Is Barefoot College and its concepts plausible for Thai communities?

1. Training illiterate grandmothers to be the solar engineers: Empowering women to be the cause of social change

  • They built solar lamps and parabolic Scheffler solar cooker
  • Question: How are grandmothers spending their time now? Would my own grandmother be willing to do that?

2. Teaching village children: “Democracy, citizenship, how you should measure your land, what you should do if you’re arrested, what you should do if your animal is sick”

  • Democracy system and election – 12 year-old as prime minister as her cabinet who monitored 150 schools with 7,000 children
  • Insight: Teach kids the necessary skills and knowledge that are directly applicable to their lives (how you should measure your land vs derivative cos x, etc.)
  • Question: What is the context for Thai students (Rural vs Urban Kids)

3. People are certified by their community, not by a piece of parchment

  • Question: What incentives do Barefoot College use to attract people to attend?

4. Structure of college:

  • All the roofs are connected underground to a 400,000 liter tank, and no water is wasted
  • Food cooked by solar cookers

5. Puppetry as form of communication

  • Aided by body language and expression

Inspiring deeds of Bunker Roy that I should try: Spend 2-6 months with the rural communities to experience their hardships and learn from their brilliance

” Listen to the people on the ground. They have all the solutions in the world.” – Bunker Roy, 2011 at TedTalk


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