Bunker Roy, the founder of the Barefoot College in Tilona, gave a whole new meaning to Mark Twain’s famous quote: don’t let school interfere with your education.

Today, at DIREC 2010, during the Capacity Building session, he shared with us an amazing model of teaching essential skills for the rural poor.

Their approach is the following: the College is training illiterate grandmothers (age between 35 and 55) to install and maintain fixed individual home lightingExamples of efficient light are LEDs, halogens, CFLs and luminaries. systems with solar lanterns for off-gridA grid is a network of transmission lines, usually to distribute electric power . electrification.

Participants from developing countries (mostly in Africa) are trained for six months at the Barefoot College campus in Tilonia, Rajasthan. Air fare and 6 month training costs are covered by the Government of India. After completing the course, solar equipment is shipped to their homes where they will install it to electrify the whole village.

This stunning programme is trying to decentralize ownership of this technology and prove that African poor women can be great engineers without depending just on urban specialized skills.