Girl with urn
Barefoot College

Barefoot College and the Children's Parliament received The World's Children's Honorary Award 2001 because, for more than 30 years, they have made empowered tens of thousands of poor children, especially girls, and given them the chance of education.

The Barefoot College, founded by Bunker Roy, gives children the opportunity to have an education. not least to learn about their rights so that they can make decisions about and influence matters which are important to their lives.

Children’s Parliament
Barefoot College was awarded not least for their innovative ideas on running Night Schools and Children's Parliaments (CP). Children’s Parliaments (CP) are run in schools and villages to make children feel equal and responsible members of society. The CP aims to provide children with the opportunity to actively participate in the management of their schools through a democratic process, irrespective of caste, gender or economic status. In coalition with a village committee, the Children’s Parliament groups are now also responsible for looking after the programming and management of the solar bridge schools now run throughout India.

The Barefoot approach
In rural India, 60-70% of children do not attend school during the day. Instead, they help their family with everything from collecting firewood or drinking water. With Barefoot College’s solar bridge school program, once these children have finished with their domestic chores, they go to school–but not just any school. They attend collaborative classes that inspire creative projects and place high value on local knowledge and customs.

Many children who have gone through the solar bridge school program have remained in their villages and gone on to become Barefoot teachers, doctors, water and solar engineers, and have been elected to respected village council positions. They continue to support their communities and help other village members educate themselves and improve their quality of life.

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Text & Photos: Kim Naylor

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