Sanjit "Bunker" Roy

  • Founder, Barefoot College

Sanjit “Bunker” Roy founded “Barefoot College,” which was built by and for the poor, to help them apply traditional knowledge and skills to problems like drinking water quality, energy and the environment. Sanjit is the recipient of many... More

Sanjit “Bunker” Roy founded “Barefoot College,” which was built by and for the poor, to help them apply traditional knowledge and skills to problems like drinking water quality, energy and the environment. Sanjit is the recipient of many prestigious awards for his service, including the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship, the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, the Swiss Schwab Foundation Award and the St. Andrew’s Prize. As to his take on learning, Sanjit likes to quote Mark Twain, saying, “Never let school interfere with your education.”

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Sanjit "Bunker" Roy's Presentations

PopTech 2008 October 2008

Bunker Roy: Scaling the Pyramid: In 1965 Bunker Roy decided to work in a village in Bihar, India during a famine. “I want to be an unskilled laborer, digging wells for five years,” he told his mother - who was shocked because she thought he was... More

Bunker Roy: Scaling the Pyramid: In 1965 Bunker Roy decided to work in a village in Bihar, India during a famine. “I want to be an unskilled laborer, digging wells for five years,” he told his mother - who was shocked because she thought he was throwing away his good job and expensive education. “But that,” he said, “Was when my real education started.”

He ended up starting the Barefoot College, an organization based in Rajasthan that tries to harness the knowledge of ordinary people, and help them learn new things.

The college campus was built by the people who go there, people who knew how to build but can’t read and write. It’s won awards - although he had to return a $50,000 architecture prize because the organizers wouldn’t believe there was no architect involved.

Among the projects he has focused on is capturing rain water. It’s such a simple thing, he says, but makes a massive difference. Catching the water from school rooftops frees up children to go to school instead of spending hours going off to collect it. They are now collecting 93 million liters in schools all around India, and millions of children are benefiting from this simple technology.

The entire campus is solar powered, and many of the engineers who build solar cookers and devices are women. Teaching women non-traditional skills - fixing water pumps, building solar systems for villages. They’ve now solar electrified around 500 villages across the country, reaching around 125,000 people.

It’s now spreading to other countries around the world - and the people they’ve chosen to educate as solar engineers are mothers and grandmothers.

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Poptech 2005 October 2005

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Profound respect for collective wisdom and traditional skills permeate Bunker Roy’s tale of how his Barefoot College empowers local people to improve their communities by demystifying technology and recognizing the dignity of labor.

Profound respect for collective wisdom and traditional skills permeate Bunker Roy’s tale of how his Barefoot College empowers local people to improve their communities by demystifying technology and recognizing the dignity of labor.

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