On 29 March we held a seminar on Educational Strategy for a Sustainable Society  to hear the story of a remarkable change management project: converting more than half of Thailand’s 40,000 schools to sustainability schools within eight years.

Under a whole-of-school approach, certified ‘sufficiency schools’ embed sustainable practices in both age-appropriate curricula and in school administration. This project has now been evaluated and found successful on multiple criteria, as our presenters, Dr. Priyanut Dharmapiya (Thailand Sustainable Development Foundation) and her research colleague, Dr. Molly Saratun (College of Management, Mahidol University, Bangkok) explained.

More detail on the presentation

Educational Strategy for a Sustainable Society: Cultivating Sufficiency Mindsets in Thai School Students

Since 2008, Thailand has promoted education for sustainable development with a strategy based on the ‘Sufficiency Economy Philosophy’ (SEP) of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Sufficiency-based school programs apply SEP principles as a decision-making framework in their management and learning activities in a ‘whole-of-school’ approach and via stakeholder partnerships with communities and businesses.

The SEP helps develop characters in students that will encourage them to live a self-reliant lifestyle with responsible consumption, environmentally-responsible actions, and wise use of limited resources; and able to contribute to building a sustainable society. The aim is to cultivate a ‘sufficiency mindset’ and associated practices in students’ daily lives.

Sufficiency-based schools embed SEP in the curriculum in age-appropriate ways. Sufficiency principles are integrated directly in all subjects and student activities, including in extra curricular activities. Of the approximately 40,000 schools in Thailand, 21,126 have been certified as sufficiency-based.

121-certified Sufficiency Educational Learning Centers (SELCs) are certified-schools mentoring applicant schools to help them become sufficiency-based. In addition to the two formal certification levels, 369 recognised ‘best-practice’ schools help schools at the first certification level to improve their quality.

A two-phase research study investigated first the practices and success factors of selected SELCs, and then outcomes and their relationships with sufficiency-based schools in the second phase. Results revealed that the strategy has not only achieved the desired character in students, but also many other unexpected successes at the student, school and community levels.

  • The speakers distributed a paper on their research at the seminar – you can download it here in pdf format – http://www.tsdf.or.th/elctfl/articlefile/article-file-10590.pdf
  • You can listen to a podcast of the seminar– the session starts at 9 minutes 40 seconds. After clicking the ‘Play’ button use the little grey button on the left above the podcast toolbar to move the podcast onto 9 mins 40 seconds. Alternatively click on the ‘Scenes’ button on the right and click on Scene 10 and wait 30 seconds until the presentation starts.
  • Here are a few photos from the seminar – thank you to photographer Eleanor Duncan.

About the presenters

Priyanut Dharmapiya

Priyanut Dharmapiya, Ph.D.

Dr. Priyanut Dharmapiya directs the Sufficiency School Center, Foundation of Virtuous Youth and is currently a Board Member of Thailand Sustainable Development Foundation. During 2005-2011, she was Sufficiency Economy Research Project Director at the Crown Property Bureau, and from 2003-2005, Director of the Sufficiency Economy Unit at the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) in Thailand.

Prior to that, she was Director, International Economic Policy Unit, and worked in various other capacities at the NESDB. Her main research interests are in the Buddhist economics and the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy.

She is an expert in learning design for cultivating sufficiency economy mindsets and behaviours in schools.

Dr. Priyanut received her PhD in economics from Simon Fraser University, Canada, and her Master’s degree in economics and Bachelor’s degree in socio-economic planning from Tsukuba University, Japan. [/fusion_builder_column_inner]

Molraudee (Molly) Saratun

Molraudee (Molly) Saratun, Ph.D.

Dr. Molraudee Saratun is an Assistant Professor at the College of Management, Mahidol University, Thailand. Her industry background includes people management in a Thai Oil and Gas Exploration Company and management consulting with a global consulting firm in the area of change management and human resource management in Thailand and the UK.

Following a consulting career, Dr. Saratun taught and researched at two business schools in the UK for 6 years, typically on topics related to human resource management and industrial relations.

Since completing her thesis in human resource management, she has focused her research on corporate sustainability, sufficiency economy philosophy, performance management, and employee engagement.

Dr. Saratun is also an advisor for Thailand Sustainable Development Foundation on human development for sustainability.


Our thanks to Macquarie Graduate School of Management (MGSM), Macquarie University for hosting the seminar.