"A hundred years ago, when villages in India had no urban-trained professionals with impressive paper qualifications, what did the villagers do? They developed their own knowledge, skills and wisdom..."
So begins the Kivu.com case study of India's Barefoot College, where traditional, indigenous knowledge and skills are applied to solve basic
problems of clean water, health, education and employment. It is a non-formal training
institute taught by
village teachers, many of whom have no formal qualifications, but use expertise acquired from their
ancestors. They train barefoot engineers,
doctors, teachers, designers, chemists, accountants and traditional
communicators to help their own communities, reducing the cost and dependence on expertise from outside. The college also keeps track of
its tangible initiatives, achievements and activities through annual reports
The biggest lesson I see from this is realizing how effective grassroots, non-formal, practical training can be. Formally-trained, "paper-qualified" experts have their role in helping society, but the Barefoot College shows that villagers with indigenous knowledge and common sense have their own practical skills
and ability to judge what is possible.