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- Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam

Illiterate Women are Powering Electricity in Rural India

19-12-2017 01:40 PM | Aastha Dogra

Illiterate Women are Powering Electricity in Rural India | My Indian Dream

Barefoot College creates solutions that let nature and people prosper.

In India, there are close to 240-300 million people, who do not have access to electricity. Our Prime Minister Narendra Modi has pledged to provide electricity to each and every citizen of the country by 2022. At present, sixty one percent of electricity is generated from coal in our country, which can be damaging to the environment. So, in order to meet this deadline set by our prime minister, India has to rely heavily on solar power. This is where grassroot organizations like Barefoot College, Rajasthan - a nonprofit school, come in.

Barefoot College, Rajasthan - Molding Grandmothers into Solar Engineers!

Situated in Tilonia, Rajasthan, Barefoot College is training rural women, above the age of thirty five, to become solar engineers! They make use of methods like color-coding, memorizing and hands-on lessons while teaching them, as majority of these women are illiterate. The women here may not know how to read and write, but they know how to work on a circuit board!

Earlier, Barefoot College trained men as well, but this was discontinued, as men who learned the skills, shifted to cities to make money from it. On the other hand, trained women, particularly grandmothers, went back to their villages and lighted them! After completion of six months of training, the new technicians return to their villages with solar power equipment. They install LED lights in households, solar panels and charging stations. In case of a breakdown, they have the know-how to repair them as well. It is estimated that as of 2015, Barefoot college’s pass outs have brought light to around twenty thousand households, in over three hundred villages, across India.

A New Life…

Many of these trained women belong to so called lower castes. Earlier they had to lower their eyes or cover their face in front of the upper castes. But now that they can install and repair light installations, their services are sought after and they are respected by everyone in the village. Being a solar engineer has changed their life. They supplement their household’s income by earning themselves and this has improved their standard of living.

According to the founder and director of Barefoot College, Bunker Roy, in order to provide electricity to each and every citizen of India, a Gandhian model of solar-electrifying villages is the right solution. Barefoot College’s decentralized and off-grid approach can make electricity for all a reality. It can transform villages, increase economic activity, reduce poverty and make the entire country prosperous. Not to mention, how environment-friendly solar power is! It can be rightly said that when women technicians return to their villages and light them, they are giving everyone a new start in life!