Barefoot College award will train village women


Posted: 27 May 2003

A project to bring much-needed energy to remote Himalayan villages in India using an army of 'barefoot engineers', has won the 2003 St Andrews Prize for the Environment. It is just the latest of many plaudits which have been won by the College, founded in 1972 by the social pioneer, Bunker Roy.

Night school for girls, Rajasthan Habaspura, Rajasthan. Children who look after goats and sheep during the day can attend night school where they learn about maths, animal husbandry, the environment and to read and write Hindi. Most of the 34 pupils are girls. © Peter Coles

The programme trains illiterate and semi-iliterate people, many of them society drop-outs, to install and maintain solar power equipment, transforming the standard of living and independence of their communities, and drastically reducing their use of environmentally harmful fuels.

Bunker Roy, head of the Barefoot College of Rajasthan, who was presented with the award at the Scottish University, said that the $30,000 prize money would go towards starting up the first 'barefoot college' for women.Bunker RoyBunker Roy with his medal for the St Andrews Prize for the Environment.

Ladakh college

"The timing of this award couldn't be better" he said. We're planning to build the first barefoot solar college for training village women in Ladakh. The government has already granted the land for the new college, and this will enable us to make a start, and give our project the credibility to seek additional funds."

The St Andrews Prize for the Environment is a joint initiative of the University of St Andrews, a world leader in environmental studies, and ConocoPhillips, a major integrated energy company active in more than 40 countries.

Since 1986 barefoot engineers trained by the College have installed solar voltaic home lighting systems and produced solar lanterns across 10 states in India.

The campus itself is the only fully solar electrified college in India and is a testimony to the capacity of people to identify and solve their own problems with their own skills.

See: and visit the Barefoot College website.