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the learning community our hearts yearn for …

an action potential for a new education paradigm is here …

training is experiential and co-creative, leveraging tools for self-organization …

Facilitating Self-Directed Education (SDE) Training – Egypt ’17

We come to live and play together, as education changemakers, rebels and companions in a journey of learning and unlearning. Together,  we self-organize, co-create and embody the new learning community we wish to see in the world – to be culturally rooted and globally connected!

The Self-Directed Education (SDE) Facilitators Training program is a co-creative, experiential training and incubator for a Network of Self-Directed Education projects held in Egypt.

It is for social entrepreneurs and changemakers who want to create (or already have) education spaces (like schools and homeschool groups) and communities that put ideas and concepts of Self-Directed education, communal learning and self-organization into practice.

The program is also directed at parents, teachers, facilitators of children’s activities and education enthusiasts who are looking for new, crazy ways to re-imagine how “education” is organized and conducted, and reclaim our natural “learning” capabilities.

Who Is This For?

Are you a …

  • Key member of a co-learning/alternative education space (founder and potential founder, facilitator, administrator, parent, student, etc.)?
  • Social/Education Entrepreneur interested in starting SDE spaces or alternative education communities?
  • Education activist and changemaker? 
  • Teacher interested in bring SDE into her/his classrooms?
  • Parent group leader (e.g. leader of a homeschooling cooperative)? 

And would you like to …

  • Build relationships within the self-directed education community in Egypt and our partners across the world?
  • Learn and practice with simple tools for creating a micro-culture and that supports self-directed education, community collaboration, and trust-based relationships?
  • Access mentorship and support from a local community and an international network to equip yourself for your own education project?
  • Stretch, grow, live joyfully and experience the learning community you wish to create?
  • Have an enormous amount of fun, organic food and lemon juices?!?!

Note: It is preferable to have previous facilitation experience with children, since this program does not start facilitation training at the basic level, but rather adds to facilitators tools and practices of self-directed education. However, if you love and trust kids, if you feel there is a true call for you while reading this – then just go ahead and fill an application!

What Will Happen During the Program? Which Part Is Best For Me?

 ⚓ Foundation:  Days 1 – 3

This is where we get into what Self Directed Education is and, how to do it!

Inspired by the regenerative land and the rich forms of life around us in the SEKEM community, we will:

  • dive in together, get to know each other and build our community.
  • engage with the philosophy, theoretical foundations, tools and practices that are fundamental to the self-directed education model.
  • re-imagine education, mainly focused on SDE, inside and outside Egypt.
  • honor emergence by self-organizing around projects, conversations, activities, games and other interests arising from the group.
  • explore topics like: self-organization, deschooling/unschooling and intentional culture creation.

We highly recommend attending the full program. If you can only attend three days, then the ”Foundation” part of the program is for you.

? Practicum: Days 4 – 8

In this part of the program, the energy level gets a serious upgrade for when we are joined by around 30 kids of all ages (8 – 16 years old) for a Self Directed Education Summer Camp!

Yes, a sleepover summer camp in the Sekem Neem Forest! Such an unparalleled chance for both kids and adults to build a powerful learning culture, to create the learning community our hearts have always yearned for!

Here’s where the learning really starts as we practice, fail, learn, reflect and share together!

  • We will invite program participants to take leadership roles, side by side with experienced facilitators from the organizing partners at Mesahat, ALC and SESC to get real world experience by facilitating with children.
  • Children and adult participants will co-create the camp program in harmony with the nature, people and rich venues for learning and play at Sekem Farm.
  • Participants will use this week to self-organize to best meet their intentions, needs and goals: go deeper into discussions, work directly related to their startup project, get hands on practice playing with kids and facilitating and intentional culture creation and self directed education.

Reflection & Integration: Days 9 & 10

  • We will  reflect and share what we have learned through self-organizing to facilitate a transformative educational experience for 30 kids.
  • There will be feedback for participants on their facilitation experience.
  • We will hold sessions to support participants who particularly want to start an enterprise or a communal learning space in making actionable plans, and real world connections.
  • We set up ways to stay connected to the Self-Directed Education Community we created together.
  • We’ll walk away with Self-Directed Education projects moving forward powerfully.

If you want to feel SDE and Intentional Culture Creation in your bones, build the foundation of the SDE movement in Egypt, and/or launch your own educational project, you’ll want to participate in the full 10 day program.

We can try to explain to you what this experience is like, but it is never like hearing it from people who lived it.


Checkout testimonials from last year participants

When and Where?

Happening from August 17 to 26, 2017

We will co-live for 10 days on the Sekem farm, a 40-year legend to learn and get inspired from. Sekem is an epicenter of organic farming, sustainable living and intentional culture in Egypt. Sekem is located just outside of Cairo on the Cairo-Belbes road.

Note: If you have problems sleeping away, let us know. While co-living is the most immersive experience, we understand that it might not work for everyone’s lives.

Financial Investments

How Much?

So far, we do not have any funding partners. Participants financial contributions is the only way we cover the program cost of: materials, venue rentals, facilitator honorariums, logistics, accommodation, and meals.

Below is the exact cost per participant (only to cover our costs), and a sliding scale of contributions depending on which part of the program you attend.

You decide your contribution along the ranges of this sliding scale. As we are sharing an education model founded in trust, we trust you to offer a contribution within the range of this sliding scale that feels generous and responsible! That’s the only way it’s going to work!

Foundation: Days 1 – 3 

August 17 – 19, 2017

  • Expense per participant: 1,600 EGP

  • Requested: sliding scale of contribution from min. 1,000 to max. 2,500 EGP

Foundation + Practicum + Reflection: Days 1 – 10 

August 17 – 26, 2017

  • Expense per participant: 2,650 EGP

  • Requested: sliding scale of contribution from min. 2,000  to max. 4,000 EGP

Transportation is available at an extra cost of around 120 – 150 EGP (round trip) depending on the number of participants who request the service.

If you require scholarship to contribute within the range of the sliding scale, please let us know in your application. We will do our best to make sure finances are not an obstacle to your participation. The more some participants contribute towards the higher end of the sliding scale, the more we will be able to offer slots for other participants who face financial difficulties.

We always recommend attending the full SDE Facilitator Program to get the most value. Hence, we give priority to participants who can join us for the full duration of the program.

Timeline: What will happen when?

June 15 : Application for SDE Facilitator Program opens

July 15: Application closes – (rolling admissions: early applicants will receive early responses to their applications)

June 30 and July 10: An open, online Q & A session with an organizer

July 16: Announcing final list of invited participants

July 17 – August 1st: Financial contributions paid for the program.

August 2 – 15: Online introductions and orientation

August 17 – 19: Foundation: Days 1 – 3

August 20 – 26: Practicum and Closing: Days 4 – 10

Logistical Details


We stay in comfortable, air-conditioned houses. Facilitators and kids co-living and co-learning. Separate facilities for genders are available.

Other, more private accommodation options are also available in the Sekem hotel at a much higher price. Let us know in your application if you would prefer this option. 

Transportation (round trip) is available at an extra cost. Otherwise, you can drive to the farm or carpool with other participants. 



Delicious, healthy, locally sourced food, mostly organic, will be provided for 3 meals a day ( breakfast, lunch and dinner) cooked with love by the Sekem chefs. Beverages and fruits throughout the day will also be available.


The main language of the training program will be English (because of the mix of facilitators between Egyptians and non-Egyptians). However, quality translation to Arabic is always available. A good level of understanding and comfort in communicating in English is preferred. In all cases, participants are highly encouraged to express in the language they feel most comfortable with.

We aspire to hold this training in Arabic in the near future, as more cohorts of self-directed education facilitators graduate and help in organizing and holding this training fully in Arabic.

Meet the Team!

This program is facilitated by Eric Bear Ludwig and Nariman Moustafa. We also have other Agile Learning Facilitators that will co-facilitate and join for varying lengths of the program like Sierra Allen and Ryan Shollenberger. Our operation lead is Amira Saad. You can know some of their stories and read more about them by expanding the sections below.

Eric Bear Ludwig

I come to this work from an intention to serve the life of the planet we share. Playfully.

My vocation in Self-Directed Education began eight years ago with a job in environmental education. It was after I played/worked with children and the natural world that I came to the realization that, we (humans) are not only going to have a revolution in human consciousness by connecting every child to beautiful natural areas, but also by connecting every child to the life within themselves.

Upon realizing that, and finding limits in the system I was working in, I struck out and started an environmental/permaculture education non-profit in Florida (where I’m from). I’ve been working in Self-Directed Education since, in a variety of contexts, including a public school in an under-served community and the Alternative Education Resource Organization, a network for alternative schools.

It was nearly five years ago that I co-founded Agile Learning Centers during its pilot year in New York City (NYC). I started and ran the first Agile Learning Center inside of an intentional community I lived in.

I traveled to different places including Nepal, Ughanda to learn/play with children in rural villages there and continue to live into my commitment to co-create alternative educational options to the industrial, colonial model with children, teachers, and families all over the world.

Now, I coach and support individual ALCs, design and facilitate ALC trainings and events, and travel to expand the ALC Network and Self-Directed Education across North America, Europe and Egypt (as a starting point in the Middle East). I also facilitate with kids!

I work with individuals and look for individuals with a shared vision for a world that trusts and loves humans of all ages to live their lives fully!

I also love being barefoot. Bear is actually my middle name. I draw comics, I can be very expressive. I love to surf and climb trees and eat whole, fresh, foods.

Nariman Moustafa

Having gone through the formal/mainstream education system and experienced its failures, I bunked my Dental studies college degree and later-on practice to go on and pursue my passion for social entrepreneurship in a self-designed manner.

As a self-directed learner for most of my life, I am passionate about re-imagining learning experiences, resources and pathways. I consider myself a catalyst of social enterprise ecosystems, network connector, facilitator, entrepreneur and social entrepreneurship trainer. The overarching vision for all the community work I do is a desire to empower humans so that we can reclaim our lives and free will from the ready-made pathway that our global system is leading us down to in all fields of life.

I am an Agile Learning Facilitator and the founder of Mesahat Al Ta\’lem Al Hor. In 2015, I met and hosted Eric Bear from Agile Learning Centers and we played together to create a pilot project that convened parents, teachers, trainers, social entrepreneurs, facilitators of children activities, education enthusiasts and government representatives for a number of trainings and workshops on self-directed education in Cairo. After which the training participants went on to facilitate a self-directed education winter camp for children. My goal, with this project, is to create a community of inter-connected self-directed education spaces and societies in Egypt, starting by turning Cairo into a learning city, where parents, teachers and children experience the possibilities and alternatives that lie ahead of us in the world to un-stuck ourselves.

My past career experiences include: joining the global organization, Ashoka: Innovators for the Public for 4 years where my contribution to social changemaking was through my role at Ashoka Arab World, as the Regional Search and Selection Representative, working with the Arab region’s most prominent social entrepreneurs on areas of systems change and scaling up strategies.

Prior to Ashoka, I came from a socially driven background, working on designing and facilitating education experiences with organizations like the Arab Thought Foundation, Soliya, Education Square and the American University in Cairo. My latest stop was consulting with Education-focused social enterprises in India on areas of operations management, program design and impact assessment. During my time in India, I traveled across the country documenting stories of and getting inspired by self-designed learners (children, youth and parents) and experiences of alternative schools.

I love theater, traveling, storytelling and connecting with people over coffee and good conversations.

Sierra Allen

I am a self and community taught human born in the Yukon Territory, Canada and raised between there and Costa Rica. I strive enthusiastically to pursue a full and happy life of connection, wonder, learning and movement.

I became disillusioned with the conventional education system at a young age and was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to opt out of it. I had the support I needed to take direct responsibility for my own education. My current educational philosophy is born from challenges and insights I have had experimenting with different approaches to learning and familiarizing myself with the work of progressive educators. I’ve found that people learn best when they are fundamentally trusted as individuals to make their own choices and are immersed in a rich, supportive learning culture. With a longing to share my experiences and test my convictions, I co-founded a Learning Center based in Costa Rica in 2006, where I facilitated for over five years.

In 2016, I became an Agile Learning Facilitator where I found a community of like-minded educators (including Nariman Moustafa and Eric Bear) and a model that was incredibly aligned with my vision. I was humbled and inspired to be in the midst of a growing movement that is creating a more beautiful world by holding spaces for Self-Directed education. In this regard, I am founding Facilitator at Wildwood, an ALC in North Carolina. I have traveled to different places in the US, Canada and Europe to expand Self-Directed Education and Agile Learning Centers via individual and community connections, workshops, presentations, and kids’ camps.

The work I do in education is intrinsically linked to a deep desire to honour the sacred. I aspire to facilitate a societal shift toward sustainable, compassionate living by holding reverence for the beauty of wilderness, and nurturing it within ourselves. Also, I am passionate about climbing (mostly rocks and trees), foraging wild edibles, and fully engaging in learning through play.

Ryan Shollenberger

I have been with Agile Learning Centers (ALC) since day one being a founder. My background includes several degrees and time teaching in a variety of environments. I am known in the ALC community for my amazing beard, my sincerity and playfulness, facilitating meetings, and co-creating spectacular Minecraft worlds.  I am influenced by the writings of Wilhelm Reich, A.S. Neil, Alan Watts, Nietzsche, and Goethe among others.  

While I am a co-founder and director of ALC-New York City, you’re more likely to find me climbing real and plastic rocks, playing kickball, or chatting about the philosophy of Star Wars than doing administrative tasks.  My superpower is infinite (for kids) and near-infinite (for adults) patience, as well as the ability to listen to requests from multiple children simultaneously.  Making and holding space for kids to realize their potential as already always self-actualized humans, rather than candidates for eventual humanity is my life’s work, and I would love for you to join me. =)  

Organizing Operations Champion: Amira Saad

I started authentically discovering a new life with the birth of my only daughter, Retal. With this new birth, that was mine and hers, I decided to live the life I want and to give my daughter the chance to be her authentic self. According to the pre-decided societal pathways, I was a media director, not really a track I have chosen for myself. I worked in the media field for 3 years during which I learnt loads. I shifted my career and interests to education when my daughter came to life. I discovered that learning is like breathing and so should be education. The latter should not be what we think of as a depressed child with a bent back.


I started playing with my daughter and documenting our experience on my blog. I decided to homeschool my child and in that journey I learnt tremendously, with love and passion, about alternative education philosophies. During my own self-directed journey in the field of education, I took a specialized Montessori Diploma and became a Montessori teacher.

Four years ago, I started my journey to take what I do with my kid to develop other kids intensively. I discovered my own dyanamic ability to communicate with mothers, reach their hearts and influence them. For this reason, I opened a parents’ skills development center (with another cofounder). I trained more than 200 mums on Montessori parenting techniques and I still continue to work with parents.

I participated in organizing the first edition of the Self-Directed Education Facilitators and Founders training program; which is a program that opened new avenues of love, joy and learning for me. I look forward to connecting with people who want to challenge themselves and open their perceptions and visions to new worldviews.  

I love nature; I adore listening to the voice of the sea waves and walking barefoot on the ground and feeling the earth in my feet soles. I like reading and calmness and witnessing beauty. I do not like to be called with any titles because I feel they chain me, while I always want to feel free in connection to people.

This program is offered in partnership with Agile Learning Centers (ALCs), a U.S. based non-profit organization and global network of Self-Directed Education schools and facilitators.

There are many models of Self-Directed Education applications around the world, facilitators and participants will hold open space sessions to present other models and modalities.

We will use ALC’s model as the main application during our program, which is designed to be easily adapted to different communities in different cultural contexts.

What is Agile Education?

Self-Directed: Humans are natural learners. When children get to follow their passions, they engage deeply, learning more quickly and thoroughly – covering years of content in weeks at the time they choose to learn it.

Intentional Culture: At ALCs children feel they are heard, they belong, and they make a difference. As social creatures, we thrive in this kind of vibrant community which builds our confidence, heightens our communication skills, and calls forth our best selves.

Agile Management Tools: We use practical and concrete tools to make these lofty-sounding ideals real and reliable. These tools and practices provide visible feedback, effective self-management, explicit culture, clarity of purpose, and easy integration of new patterns as needs change.

Mesahat, founded in August 2016, aims to introduce alternatives to the current formal education paradigm. The idea opens the doors for communities to self-organize around reclaiming and reimagining education for children and adults.

Mesahat Al Ta’leem Al Hor is envisioned to be a network of Self-Directed Education (SDE) communities that aims to comprise children micro schools, camps and adults co-learning spaces. These learning communities are represented by spaces that are inter-connected and inter-dependant physically and digitally within the city they are embedded in. These learning communities apply values, principles, culture, and practices of Self-Directed and agile education.

Mesahat envisions every city in Egypt as a learning city starting with the vision of “Cairo as a Learning City”, where we take learning from the confinement of the classroom walls to the vastness of life and its rich resources. The goal is to create communities with a shared joy and love for learning. In these communities, we equip our learners with contextualized intellectual, social, emotional and practical skills, values and knowledge that allow for their sprouting as human beings who are intrinsically-motivated, life-long learners, capable of finding their life purpose and passion and exercising their agency and autonomy for their own good as well as that of the planet.

Currently, Mesahat works on three main axes, first is designing and organizing the annual self-directed education facilitators training program, second is starting its own communal learning spaces to implement its educational model and third is supporting groups of education entrepreneurs and changemakers as they implement their own models around self-directed education, be it inside or outside schools.

Our model is a contextualized model of Self-Directed Education and communal learning practices deeply rooted in the Egyptian culture.

SEKEM was founded with the idea of sustainable development and giving back to the community. Sustainable development towards a future where every human being can unfold his or her individual potential; where mankind is living together in social forms reflecting human dignity; and where all economic activity is conducted in accordance with ecological and ethical principles.

SEKEM contributes to the cultural development of the broader community through its constantly growing cultural institutions like the SEKEM School, Heliopolis University and other projects. Our approach is based on the belief that only the combination of feeling, willing and thinking, all human senses can be addressed and developed.

SESC, the SEKEM Environmental Science Center is part of the Sekem Community for sustainable development. SESC was founded in 2010 to offer outdoor environmental hands-on education and learning specially to serve pupils of the Sekem school, but also other schools around Egypt. By the end of 2016, SESC experienced a rebirth as a “learning” lab for holistic education that integrates different levels of being, from the physical to the spiritual.  

The current vision and intention of SESC is to be a space that allows and supports the inherent lifelong awakening process of human beings towards a more harmonious and conscious world. For SESC, this awakening process takes place when humans enact their natural gifts for learning, through engaging with life in all its aspects, forms, and experiences. It is an internal process that unfolds in unique ways for each and every person, of all age. In SESC, the learning is rooted in the context of the Egyptian culture with its ancient wisdom, and then linked to the world in all its diversity and richness.


Checkout Insights from Previous Program Participants





Sounds interesting, but I have a question or two.

Please direct your questions to our team here or feel free to whatsapp us on: +2 010 00928951

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