The organization may call itself the Barefoot College (BFC), a world famous institution located at Tilonia a remote village 35 km from Ajmer city in the semi-arid and hilly district of the same name in Rajasthan, but it leaves a deep footprint on the minds of anybody who cares to visit it. Today Tilonia is often described as a model village thanks to the extraordinary development work carried out by BFC. DEF team member Udita Chaturvedi was in Tilonia from January 5-8, 2016, to carry out a Wireless for Communities survey at BFC.
BFC was one of the first institutions which DEF took up under its Wireless for Communities (W4C) project to provide broadband Internet connectivity to the remote village using wireless technology. DEF has connected both the Old and New Campus with Internet Wi-Fi connection, making everyone on campus connected to the World Wide Web. Apart from all its other work, the Barefoot College also provides digital literacy training to children and adults on campus.
Udita returned from her first visit to Tilonia absolutely impressed. “It is the perfect example of a self-sustainable village,” she exclaims.
Women from different parts of India and from developing countries in Africa and Asia live on campus for a six-month training programme to become solar engineers; they then go back to their homes and light up their villages with solar power, writes Udita.
The college amphitheater is built upon a 1,00,000-litre rain water collection tank. Men and women in the village run a beautiful handicraft and handloom shop. Here you can buy a lot of decorative items, toys and stationary products which are all made from scrap found in the village. Some women are exclusively involved in the production of mosquito nets and affordable sanitary napkins, the use of which is also promoted in nearby villages through an awareness van. There is a school for children up to Class VIII, and even the chalk for the classroom blackboards are being made on campus.
With effective and efficient solutions for solar, water, environment, education, livelihood and advocacy, Tilonia’s Barefoot College is definitely a pioneer model which is setting an example for the rest of the country.
BFC was established in 1972 by Sanjiv Bunker Roy with the aim of encouraging people to gain practical knowledge and skills rather than achieve qualifications on degrees. Today the BFC is known the world over because of the superb development work being done by it.