Since the beginning of the Association’s activities in Ladakh the training aspects were integral part of the work campaigns.
Initially the training focused on the non-local students of conservation and architecture, as well as on local craftsmen, who were introduced to conservation and maintenance measures. Throughout the years a knowledge exchange has taken place, where both the involved locals and the Achi Association had the opportunity to acquire a deeper insight to specific challenges regarding the built heritage.
With the desire not only to include conservation experts and local craftsmen into the conservation processes, but to have a further reaching communication on conservation and maintenance issues between the Ladakhi communities and the Achi Association, it was decided to foster local involvement and to promote capacity building for the safeguarding of heritage.
In a Board meeting in 2005 the Achi Association decided to augment the field of activities through capacity building and awareness raising programs.
Essentially the Achi Association sets its goal to work on three levels of interaction: awareness raising, basic training and advanced education. The three levels are planned to reach a wide range of different persons associated with the association’s work, from the local school children to academic institutions. It is foreseen that these three levels will be implemented step by step within the next decade.
The local decision makers in the village communities and the education systems as well as the religious authorities will be approached to explain and discuss aspects of conservation and maintenance. This is the basis to actively involve them in the decision-making processes for future work.
The local schools will be approached to talk about heritage values and conservation work on a basic level.
The long-standing relationship between the Achi Association and the head of the Drikung Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism and the existence of a central monastic educational institution, the Drikung Kagyu Institute in Dehra Dun/ India, facilitate approaching monks from Ladakh and neighbouring regions during their education. Many of these monks will eventually return to their home places and will assume important functions within the monastic communities and society. Involving them and organising workshops will thus serve long-term goals.
In 2008 the Pilot Youth Training Program was launched thanks to the support of the Getty Foundation, Los Angeles (USA). It assists the local communities in capacity building for heritage maintenance and introduces methods for preventive conservation.
On a third level, the Achi Association wants to assist and motivate natives from target regions, currently Ladakh, in receiving professional education in fields of architecture and art conservation with the long-term goal to replace the foreign experts with local professionals.