The Ray Of Light In Rural India – Bunker Roy

A man who managed to change the definition of villages, a man who was amongst Times’ 100 most influential personalities in 2010 for his work in educating illiterate and semi-literate Indians and a man who brought about a revolutionary impact in rural India with his willpower and intelligence had led on to an inspirational journey a few decades back. He created a place for learners, seekers and for anyone looking to contribute. What followed ever since then is simply history making its way into the future; for today is revolutionary.
Mr Roy founded Barefoot College in the year 1972. An institute that teaches rural women and men; many of whom are illiterate, to become self-sufficient. With this initiative came a night school in the year 1975 from which until today, about 75000 students have passed and 80%  have stayed back in the village.
Like each one of us, Mr Roy has had his bad times too. The darkest moments for him have been the ones when he could not convince his kind that there’s a way forward. There’s an alternative, which is an indigenous Indian way of looking at things.
We constantly deal with our negatives, flaws and fears. Mr Roy has one concern too…He fears that locals may lose the capacity to learn new things. He feels that the transition of someone who has done extraordinary work has actually come to a stage where they don’t want to learn something new.
How can we replicate Barefoot College model?
-Fight with your parents and stay in a village for 6 months.
-Challenge yourself and come to Tilonia
– You won’t be offered any monetary gains but you will have a family.
Quotes by Mr Roy
“We don’t have to show our degree to prove our worth.”
“What I have as a human being is more important than what I have with a piece of paper”
“1000s of people living in Delhi, Mumbai and cities similar look at coming to a village as a failure. That’s not true. Villages are the very roots.”
“We cannot have an urban solution to a rural problem”
“Future lies in how you decentralise.”
“Improve the quality of people in villages so they don’t migrate to cities”
“What I have as a human being is more important than what I have with a piece of paper”
“Never ask any individual about its qualification, that just doesn’t matter. What matters are the skills that are possessed, developed and put to use…”
Author Rights: Pooja Akula, ERC 2017

The Akshaya Patra Foundation – feeding 1.6 million children every year

The Mid Day Meal initiative was conceived in June 2000 by The Akshaya Patra Foundation with a vision that “No child in India shall be deprived of education because of hunger.” With a desire to serve food to those in need, Akshaya Patra envisioned the Mid Day Meal project in schools which also served the underprivileged children. After the success of the

With a desire to serve food to those in need, Akshaya Patra envisioned the Mid Day Meal project in schools which also served the underprivileged children. After the success of the program in Karnataka, it was expanded to other parts of the country as a public-private partnership. The Central and State Governments, as well as individual and institutional funders, have joined hands in implementation of Mid-Day Meal in schools covered by Akshaya Patra. The objectives of the Mid-Day Meal Scheme are to reduce classroom hunger and increase school enrolment and attendance, thereby improving socialization among castes and addressing malnutrition. This is also expected to empower women through employment. The foundation envisions an INDIA free of hunger and poverty. It has an ambitious aim to feed 5 million children by 2020.

This is a sneak peek into their kitchen.

Jagriti Yatra will visit the Foundation in Vizag on the 30th December.

How it Works:

The entire cooking and delivery process in the Akshaya Patra project has been designed such that the nutritive value of the food is maximized, based on a basic set of guidelines prepared by a body of nutrition experts covering food preparation, storage, and supply. The processes are not only standardized but have also been quality tested and certified by ISO. This ensures that hygienic and nutritious food reaches the children. This impact on health was observed to be particularly high on children from very poor families.

This also ensured that cooked food and not food grains were provided to the children. Headmasters of three schools admitted that since food-grains were often supplied in bulk which exceeded the storage capacity of most of the smaller schools, the school authorities were left with no choice but to distribute food grains to the students according to the per head allocation. There was also a noteworthy reduction in the burden of the teaching staff for non-academic activities such as buying grocery, vegetables and fuel wood for cooking. With readymade food being served under the Akshaya Patra Project, the energy and time of the school staff are spared for more productive academic work.

Reference:

  • https://www.akshayapatra.org/impact-of-mid-day-meal-programme
  • https://www.akshayapatra.org/apadmin/uploads/userfiles/images/pdf/hpcl-akshaya-patra-an-impact-study-2013.pdf

Barefoot College by Bunker Roy

In Rajasthan, India, an extraordinary school teaches rural women and men — many of them illiterate — to become solar engineers, artisans, dentists and doctors in their own villages. It’s called the Barefoot College, and its founder, Bunker Roy, explains how it works.

Bunker Roy is a social activist and has given considerable inputs and efforts in the field of education, women empowerment, water scarcity, skill development, drinking water, electrification through harnessing solar power etc. In fact, he was appointed by the Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi to the Planning Commission of the Indian Government.

He was selected as one of Time 100’s 100 most influential personalities in 2010 for his work in educating illiterate and semi literate rural Indians.

Registered under Friends of Tilona Inc., Barefoot College has been hard at work for the upliftment of rural people, develop their skills, empower women, and encourage discussions over trivial problems faced by them and find out the best possible way out of it. The Social work Research Center founded in 1972 was established after a severe drought had hit many areas. Bunker Roy surveyed around 100 such sites with the aim to find possible solutions and help the residents. He cited water pumps around the villages in both conventional and traditional way and trained the villagers to maintain the pumps and use they efficiently to manage their water woes not only for the present but in times to come. As the center developed they started working on many more domains that ranged from not only water related issues but also empowerment of underprivileged especially women to sustainable development in the resources available with dedication and enthusiasm.

Inspired by Gandhi’s idea of self-sustainability, the center recruits women with minimal or no education and rigorously trains them in solar engineering, electrical engineering, handicrafts etc. which are further sold or used by the villagers themselves. A Village Environment and Energy Committee formed by a few elected villagers carry out discussions on various topics that decide the cost of manufacturing solar panels and methods for effectively implementing the same. The decision is not superficially taken but takes into consideration the poorest household in the village also so that the development is enjoyed by everyone. The discussion is then implemented with the available resources. They also promote the idea ‘learner is a teacher and teacher is a learner’ and encourage them to share their knowledge and train even more people across the barriers of language and nationalities to enhance their skills and knowledge. The center has also expanded its resources to reach out to the needy in other countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America with a special focus on training women as it rightly believes that educating a woman educated the whole generation.

Their work and methodology have attracted sponsors from various parts of the world which grant the center to make their day to day activities possible. In addition to this, the products such as handicraft items also add to their income after they are sold in the market.

The center is strict about its rules and regulation and firmly believes in values such as austerity, equality, collective decision making, decentralization, self-evaluation, transparency, and accountability. The initiative has touched the lives of many and continues to do so endlessly. Barefoot college has helped Yatris understand that there is a