Illiterate local African women are being trained to become solar engineers also referred to as Solar Mamas by Barefoot College. The aim of this training is to put these women at the fore front to bring power and light to their villages. This is will go a long way to solve the problem of light facing various villages in developing countries around the world especially in Africa.
It is widely believed that throughout the world over 1.1 billion people live without power. This means that as soon as the sun goes down, they can neither work nor learn. Because of this, many homes within Africa villages often use kerosene lamps, which produce high levels of air pollution. Women are particularly at risk as they suffer from smoke inhalation when cooking. This might be one of the reason the college chooses women to pioneer the power revolution.
This training by Barefoot College will equip local Africa women to solve this problem. The training is spread over the course of six months. After these six months these “Solar Mamas” will be able to build, install and maintain solar panels and batteries to provide a renewable source of energy to their communities.
Method of training
Because the majority of these women are illiterate, the program uses mostly visual learning tools, like color-coded pictures and manuals. They are also trained in soft skills like budgeting and accounting to foster financial inclusion, use of technology to open them to digital inclusion, awareness around reproductive health and micro-enterprise skills, to empower them socially and economically.
Once the solar mamas return to their villages, they become a source of power, literally, by installing the hardware. But they also become powerful figures within their communities. Since 2016, global law firm Hogan Lovells has been assisting Barefoot College with pro bono legal advice to open four new training centers in Africa. The practice has also raised $400,000 in donations from clients and employees to fund part of this initiative.
Twitter users laud this initiative. Most of them refer to it as some sort of good news they would love to hear often. A twitter user @siraj.barbhuiya confirmed he has had a one day visit to Barefoot College in Tilonia, Rajasthan in Jan 2009. She said it was amazing to see how illiterate women are trained to identify electronic components using color code and build circuits for solar products.