CHANGING THE PERCEPTION OF SENIOR LIVING
Here is a new model of education that is based on what Gandhi stated, “…central belief was that the knowledge, skills and wisdom found in villages should be used for development before getting skills from outside.” He also believed that sophisticated technology should be used in rural India, but it should be in the hands and in control of the poor communities so that they are not dependent or exploited while maintaining or replacing this technology. The overriding question then becomes one where we have to wonder how quality education can be brought to those who are capable of doing the work, but have no education to fall back on.
Enter the Barefoot College. It is reversing the way people are educated. In the first world, we develop a new technology, and then train the people to use and repair it. This educational system might work well for a first world country, but how can we apply this to third world countries where illiteracy is rampant and a ready workforce is nearby? The administrators at the Barefoot College find volunteers in poor areas of India (although there have been students from parts of Africa and Asia as well) who are willing to live at the college and receiving training to develop and install solar panels, etc., thus giving power to small villages that are off the grid. What makes this interesting is how they train these illiterate middle-aged women and grandmothers, by using color as a means to teach them the language of electricity, construction and science. It is a way for these older people to become valuable to their small community. These women will no longer wonder what comes next. Instead, they will create a new value to their community and to themselves.