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Plans to open branches of India’s Barefoot College in Africa


Laura Bridgestock
WVoN co-editor

According to All Africa, there are plans to open branches of Barefoot College, an India-based training initiative, in some African countries.

Since 1972, the non-government organisation has been working with people in rural communities, with the aim of helping them become more self-sufficient and able to drive their own development.

While the organisation provides training for both men and women, it has acknowledged the especial benefits of empowering women, socially, financially and politically.

Founder Sanjit ‘Bunker’ Roy recently said: “Empowering women… means a lot to villages… because such women never abandon their homes to shift to urban. We train women because they are committed compared to men.”

Now it seems more women, and their communities, will be able to benefit, if plans to open branch campuses in Senegal, Burkina Faso, Liberia, Ethiopia and Tanzania go ahead.

Roy says that if these countries respond positively and demonstrate commitment to the scheme, up to $US 500,000 will be available from the Indian government to establish each new campus.

The existing Indian campus, based in the village of Tilonia, in India’s Rajasthan province, already receives trainees from rural communities worldwide.

For example, one intake of 40 women from communities in Asia, Africa and the Pacific Islands are currently spending six months at the Tilonia campus training as solar engineers.

Once they graduate with their diplomas, they’ll head back home, ready to pass on their new expertise.

Other ‘Barefoot Professionals’ are trained as health workers, teachers, architects, masons, mechanics, computer programmers, accountants, water drillers and testers – filling all the vital roles the community needs to flourish.

The organisation sums up its ethos: “The Barefoot College demystifies and decentralises sophisticated technology by handing its control to poor communities in rural India. It believes that even the poorest of poor cannot be denied the right to use, manage and own technology to improve their own lives.”

If all goes well with the plans for new campuses in Africa, soon even more communities will be be able to do so.

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