Spirit in Education Movement (SEM) was founded in 1995 with the aim to offer alternatives to mainstream education that are rooted in personal and societal transformation. SEM provides education in Thailand and the wider Southeast Asia region that is based on ecology, right livelihood, engaged spirituality and local wisdom.

Vision and Mission

SEM holds a vision for a spiritual, ecological and just society by making a holistic transition to worldviews and values that uphold sustainable and just structures of society.

We advocate moving towards this by critically understanding the prevailing economic, socio-cultural and political systems that contribute to inequalities and unsustainability in society, alongside understanding how the underlying negative factors also operate within ourselves. Through an awareness of the root causes of this suffering, we can nurture and cultivate generosity, compassion and wisdom within ourselves, as a means to lay the foundation for skilful action that can transform the structural inequalities in society.


SEM’s values are interconnected, and relevant for achieving SEM’s vision.

  • Holistic understanding of the world; realigning with the deep interconnections that create an eco-centric relationship with and between ourselves and the living world
  • Participatory, reflective and inclusive approaches that acknowledge, elevate and revalue existing wisdom alongside exploring and integrating new paradigm thinking.    
  • Spiritually grounded in order to awaken natural wisdom, cultivate compassion, generosity and intellect.
  • Self-reliance and sustainability through cultural values, ecological balance, community economics, social justice, and spiritual renewal.
  • The spirit of Kalyanamitta, or good friends, as a way to build a community and solidarity while working together for mutual benefit towards shared common good.

SEM’s Approach to Personal and Social Transformation

SEM’s main strategy to build a more equitable and sustainable society in Myanmar is primarily through facilitating social actors to become change agents, capable of mobilising wider movements of people with common visions of a just and equitable society. Our strategy for social change is based upon our understanding that personal transformation is at the core of the emergence of sustainable, wellbeing societies.

As a transformative learning organisation, SEM’s approach begins with an exploration of our value systems and attitudes, as the key building blocks to inform actions and behaviours that are expressed at the social level. This approach encourages cultivating mindfulness, tolerance and interconnectedness, which leads to a deeper understanding of how our own spiritual progress can enable an active engagement to reduce injustice and suffering in the world around us.

This process is also further supported by grounding in shared experience, through drawing reflections and lessons learned from others within similar contexts. Connecting with others across communities and regions, from the grassroots to urban groups through this process then builds a foundation for collective action.

While this process empowers civil society to take forward their own agendas, SEM also believes in the need to work with actors within existing political and social institutions, to be involved in a process where they find space to explore how to balance power and take forward their role as community representatives, helping to build and enhance a shared vision. This becomes the bridge between civil society and political institutions.