Sanjit “Bunker” Roy, a social activist, educator and the founder of Barefoot College, an organisation based in Tilonia, India — that aims to help the estimated 41 per cent of the Indian population who live below the international poverty line. Roy’s model — educating local people through peer-to-peer learning — is transformational in that it relies on the passing on of traditional skills and knowledge rather than an emphasis on outside educators bringing new ideas and influences. Local people are trained as doctors, teachers, engineers, architects, designers, mechanics, communicators and accountants and they use simple technology in innovative and disruptive ways: mobile phones are set to work monitoring water quality through an online dataset, solar-powered cookers are constructed to break dependence on wood or costly kerosene. Some lessons at the college are recorded and uploaded to the internet. There is no hierarchy: everyone eats sitting on the floor and no one receives a salary of more than $150 per month. Importantly, there is financial transparency. Staff bank accounts are published, as are company finances.
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