Sombath’s Work

The most effective way of bringing about holistic education is the participation of young people in designing the future of our education and pattern of development. Young people themselves are more open-minded to new ideas and behaviors and should take ownership in designing their own future. We, adults, are not their future. We, adults, have broken the world. And we do not know how to fix it. So let the young people work on it. We can use our wisdom, not greed, and compassion to guide and mentor them.

— Sombath Somphone, “Interconnectedness for Happiness Together,” Asian Public Intellectuals Newsletter, March-August 2012.

Sombath Somphone

An overview of Sombath’s career–as farmer, scholar, scientist and community developer–can be read at the website of Saoban, a social enterprise that he helped to establish.

An article written about Sombath in 2005 when he received the Magsaysay Award for Community leadership can be read here.

Below is a selection of additional materials either by Sombath or which describe his work.

We Will Never Forget: A booklet produced for the 10th Anniversary Sombath’s enforced disappearance.

The Enforced Disappearance of Sombath Somphone: A documentary Video released in December, 2018 depicting Sombath’s work and the political context of his disappearance. This video is also available with Japanese subtitles here.

30 Years: The Work of Mr. Sombath Somphone. Video released in December, 2014 for the two year mark of Sombath’s disappearance.

Challenges for Poverty Reduction and Sustainable Development – A View from Laos. Keynote speech by Sombath at the Asia-Europe People’s Forum (AEPF9) in Vientiane in October, 2012.

Lessons learned during the Asian Financial Crisis.  Video interview, recorded during AEPF9, Vientiane, October 2012:

Listening to the People’s Voice. Draft news article article written jointly with Minh H. Pham, Resident Coordinator of the United Nations in Lao PDR in October 2012. The article was withdrawn prior to publication at the request of Minh H. Pham, reportedly because of pressure from Lao authorities.

Teaching Happiness.  An interview with Sombath published in the Bangkok Post on 24 August, 2012.

Interconnectedness for Happiness Together. Interview in Asian Public Intellectuals Newsletter, March-August 2012.

Community Learning. This film, made by PADETC staff in 2012, shows the impact of Sombath’s development concepts towards participatory problem solving in a village in Xieng Kuang Province.

Happy Laos. In 2012, Sombath helped to make this video.

Bird Toy. This video about the value of indigenous knowledge was produced by Sombath, PADETC, and the Lao Ministry of Education.

Meditation Builds Wisdom towards Sustainable DevelopmentAn article by Sombath published in the Vol. 4, No. 7, 2011 issue of the Lao Buddhist Newsletter (Lao Language).

The Force of Inter‐Connectedness. Keynote address at the 10th Asian Public Intellectuals Regional Workshop in Chiang Mai, Thailand, November, 2011.

Poverty and Development–a case study of Laos. An audio recording of speech by Sombath at a meeting of International Forum on Globalization, Hawaii, 2011.

Less teaching, More Learning. Article in Capacity, Issue 43, September, 2011

Preparing a Generation of Leaders in Laos. A profile of Sombath’s work, included in ‘50 years, 50 stories‘ published by the East-West Centre in 2010.

Interview with Sombath Somphone: A series of video clips of an interview conducted by Ore Huiying in August, 2010.

Saving the Planet: It’s Alive! A video about Sombath and PADETC’s work with schools and youth volunteers. Lao language with English subtitles. 2009. Also available in Khmer, Nepali, and Sinhala.

Mekong Public Forum: Panel discussion at FCCT in Bangkok, Thailand on 10 November 2008. Sombath’s notes for the event are here. Also available are video clips on Civil Society in Laos, Ecology & Linkages, EIAs, Banks & Credit, and Investment & Transparency.

Interdependencies between Education and Sustainable Development: Presentation at the 10th Asia-Pacific Programme of Educational Innovation for Development (APEID) in Bangkok, Thailand, December, 2008

Experiential Learning in Lao Ricefields: Article by Sombath in SaenSaeng, Summer, 2008.

Saving the Planet. An interview with Sombath recorded in 2008 as part of a TV series produced by TVE Asia Pacific (for more info, visit the TVEAP website)

Developing Youth in Leadership for Sustainable Living. An article in Tales of Hope, published by the Asia-Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO, 2007.

Ways to Move from Mass Schooling to ESD. 2007 article from UNESCO publication ESD Currents: Changing Perspectives from the Asia-Pacific.

Towards Global Transformation: Making Change Happen. Closing panel remarks at 3rd International Conference on Gross National Happiness held in Bangkok, Thailand in November, 2007

PADETC – ten years in balance. Published in 2006, this is a colourful report on the first decade of the Participatory Development Training Centre, founded by Sombath.

Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership. Citation and Sombath’s response at the Ramon Magsaysay Award Presentation Ceremonies, August 2005, Manila. PADETC made a video about Sombath and his work in preparation for this event: Country Boy Forever

Traditional Weave, New Wave. Video made on the occasion of PADETC’s winning the 2001 ESCAP HRD Award.

Watershed. An interview in the November, 2001 issue of Watershed on The Future of Democracy, Societies and Ecosystems in the Mekong Region

Summary of NGO Approach to Shifting Cultivation. Paper for workshop on Shifting Cultivation Systems and Rural Development in the Lao PDR, organised at Nabong Agriculture College, Vientiane, in 1994.

Agricultural Development in Laos-A Social and Technical Integration: Program description of the Rice-Based Integrated Farming Systems (RIFS) Project, 1990.

Education for Sustainable Development

Lao Version