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The Barefoot College, registered as the Social Work Research Centre (SWRC) has been working in partnership with rural communities in India to improve the quality of life of the rural poor.

The life of families who subsist on daily income have basic needs which still need to be addressed: food, hunger, water, health, education, waste management & environment, women’s empowerment and employment. SWRC has also engaged with major campaigns in Rajasthan on all issues of concern, including governance.

Established in 1972, the SWRC – Barefoot College is a community-based organisation that has been providing basic services and solutions to problems in rural communities, with the objective of making them self-sufficient and sustainable. These ‘Barefoot solutions’ can be broadly categorised into water, education, health care, rural handicrafts, people’s action, communication, women’s empowerment, solar energy and wasteland development.




Indian States



5 million+



​Rajasthan is one of the driest states in India. As many as 256 of 700 districts have reported ‘critical’ or ‘over-exploited’ groundwater levels, according to the latest data from the Central Ground Water Board (2017). An average rural woman in Rajasthan walks over 2.5 km to reach a water source...


Prevailing health conditions in the community was a dominant concern of the Barefoot College, and therefore its first outreach programme in the 1970s. It helped make the first connections with people a difficult and delicate task, as local understanding of health care was still largely driven by superstitions...


Illiteracy levels were high in Rajasthan in the1970s and was an immediate concern of the Barefoot College in 1974. Projects to address illiteracy and education thus became an important focus. Adult literacy classes were started in the villages around Tilonia but they attracted children of the school-going age...


It was a serendipitous meeting in Tilonia in 1981, between Ramlal, a Barefoot string-puppeteer and Shankar Singh, a young, gifted communicator and adult educator. Their synergies connected and they gathered like-minded youth, creating a rich world of puppets, theatre and skits and songs,...


The Barefoot College Tilonia – located in one of India’s most environmentally sensitive drought prone regions – has also addressed ecological regeneration and waste management. Population growth and modern plastic packaging have combined to produce an increasing quantity of waste...


It began in the 1970s, when collective community spinning of the charkha was a daily practice in the Tilonia campus. This Gandhian concept of working with one’s hands for self-reliance was, and has continued to be, much more than a mere symbol for the people who work at the Barefoot College...


Equitable access to energy/electricity is the key to raising economic productivity, reducing poverty and improving millions of lives. In a sense energy is the foundational keystone for a better quality of life in modern times. Unfortunately, large parts of rural India do not have access to this basic facility,...


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