Community Education for Sustainable Development

Community Education

The Community Education for Sustainable Development (CESD) programme facilitates social learning that empowers local communities to improve their livelihoods, conserve their natural and cultural heritage, and embed such learning in their institutions as a continuing instrument of sustainable development.


To enable people in local communities to participate as active citizens in the design, attainment and maintenance of forms of development that are ecologically, economically, socially, culturally and personally sustainable. Such development conserves ecological resources and services, generates sustainable livelihoods, delivers social justice, conserves cultural diversity, and promotes people’s physical and mental health.


SISC seeks to establish itself as a model of education and capacity building: empowering local communities to alleviate poverty, promote community health, conserve their natural and cultural heritage, and realize more sustainable forms of development. Empowerment, capacity building and social learning are important components of this process.


SISC has established 9 Community Learning Centres (CLC) in villages and communities across the Tibetan Plateau. The best practices developed at CLCs serve as models for local community development in which individuals and groups have opportunities to set out and act upon their own agendas, seek out needed resources, do as much of the work independently as they can, take responsibility for successes and failures, and so learn their own way to more sustainable ways of living.

Institutional Capacity Building

Capacity building is essential if local people are to become agents of forms of sustainable development that they themselves initiate. Central to this is the establishment and support of an institutional framework to support social learning. SISC builds institutional capacity between communities through exchange and shared learning opportunities and at the broader social level by linking its community-based projects with further and higher-level educational institutions (vocational schools and universities). Teachers and academics are encouraged to assist the facilitation of social learning in Community Learning Centres and research the community development process. By drawing on the accumulated expertise held in educational institutions, communities can then further develop their own understanding of sustainable development. At the same time research on the theory and practice of ESD in China is extended.

Social Learning

SISC promotes the sustainable development of local communities in ways that foster their autonomy and enable them to be self-reliant in developing and protecting their livelihoods. Social learning is at the heart of this process, providing people with the competences to determine their own futures. SISC facilitates social learning that leads to collective action for sustainable development. An example is the Bazhu Community Learning Centre Management Committee which makes decisions on protecting the environment and developing a sustainable income for community members. SISC facilitators work with community members to help develop this management system. SISC also organizes many other community activities such as shared learning sessions in Community Learning Centers (CLC), monasteries and nunneries. Here an individual with expertise, such as a nature reserve manager or a High Lama leads discussion so that shared learning is achieved.

The Real Shangri-la

Read More