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Welcome to CESESMA

Welcome to the CESESMA website

CESESMA, the Centre for Education in Health and Environment, is an independent, non-government organisation working with children and young people in the coffee-growing area of northern Nicaragua, where dependence on coffee production leads to a high incidence of child labour and the associated social problems. We are a team made up entirely of Nicaraguans, most of us local people. Although we depend on overseas support and solidarity to fund our work, we are self-governing and independent of any external agency.

The challenge

Some of the world's finest coffee is grown in the remote mountains of northern Nicaragua. The Nicaraguan coffee industry employs many thousands of child workers who work long hours every day in difficult and dangerous conditions, receiving little or no payment for their efforts. Almost all drop out of school early. Some have no opportunity to go to school at all. The globalised coffee market has little respect for the rights, much less the dreams, of these children. The consequence is unemployment, hunger and destitution in these remote mountain communities.

An alternative vision of rural community education

CESESMA is developing a new approach to community education, designed in response to the reality lived by children and young people working in Nicaragua’s coffee zone. It is founded on the rights established in the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by Nicaragua in 1990. This approach supports children and young people in developing new skills and capacities which enable them to take on an active role, working for change and transformation at a personal, family and community level. Primarily focused on the children and young people themselves, our skilled team of local community educators also works in partnership with parents, teachers, community leaders and others. This educational strategy enables the young people to move from creative activity, reflection and analysis to the search for solutions, and planning of joint community action to confront and transform their challenging and exploitative situation.

Navigating our web-site

  • The CESESMA web-site is fully bilingual. At the bottom of every page there is a button to change the language to Spanish or back to English.

  • You will find our main menu at the top of every page.

  • Most sections have a sub-menu on the left of the page.

  • To return to the homepage click on the round photo in the top left corner.

  • As well as the basic information on these pages, we now have an extensive digital library of documents to download, which can be accessed from our Document Centre.


  • Original design and programming: Marc Pérez

  • Spanish text editing: Nohemí Molina

  • English text and translation: Harry Shier

  • Photographs: CESESMA

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CESESMA: Centro de Servicios Educativos en Salud y Medio Ambiente