Our Philosophy


Imagine a house with four pillars, built on a sturdy foundation. This is PADETC’s model of sustainable development (left). Built on a strong base of good governance and education, upheld by four pillars of economic development, environmental harmony, promotion and preservation of culture, and lastly the spiritual well-being or heart of the people.

All these components work together to form the roof (or ultimate goal) which is Genuine National Happiness, a concept of joyful living inspired by the Bhutanese idea of Gross National Happiness.

What is Education for Sustainable Development?

Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) is a United Nations’ decade initiative from 2005-2014.  It is an alternative model of education that aims to make society more sustainable by balancing economic, socio-cultural and environmental factors through education, or ‘learning’, and nurturing young people who know themselves and can act in a responsible way for a sustainable future.

Why is it needed?

Education and development are closely linked with each other and should reflect each other in a changing world. Education in this century needs to reflect a balance between economic, environmental and cultural dimensions, and prepare youth not only for the workplace, but how to be active and aware citizens who are able to make decisions, think critically and care for others in their communities.

It may seem old-fashioned to speak of spirituality in the 21st century, but PADETC believes that modern-day education and development models have ignored this crucial element. Modern societies may be highly skilled but often sorely lack qualities such as compassion and social responsibility.


Poster showing the interlinked components of Education for Social Development.

Poster showing the interlinked components of Education for Social Development.

Education has an important role to play in developing the whole child from the inside out. The development of the [Head] (Wisdom) + [Heart] (morals/emotions)  + [Hand] (action) = wise, happy and holistic youth who can make sustainable decisions and take action for a sustainable future.

It is essential to balance development among the cultural, environmental and economic dimensions. Practically this means that teachers, parents and community members educate youth in these three content areas equally, and make connections between them both inside and outside the classroom.

Learning does not occur only in schools or at school age. People can and should learn in a variety of places from different people – at school, in the home or in the community by teachers, administrators, parents, elders, friends, and monks. Learning is a lifelong process and life skills and experiential learning can happen anywhere, anytime. For this reason, it is time to have closer cooperation and overlap among schools, homes and communities.

In all projects, young people are involved first to learn, then to participate, and then to lead. Teams of youth volunteers are trained in basic community development concepts, problem identification and analysis, mobilization skills, and leadership skills which they then use to spearhead activities in schools and communities. The emphasis is to get the young volunteers to “learn to think, to plan, to act, and to lead”.

Video: What is Education for Sustainable Development?

Tools for ESD

PADETC has developed tools for Education for Sustainable Development.


ESD POSTER (English) (PDF)



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