"In both Burma and Thailand the debate is far from over. While both the idealists and the pragmatists agree that the principal aim of the monastic education systems should be to train monks in the Dhamma and Vinaya, the two sides cannot agree whether or not steps should be taken to help fulfil some educational needs of the society by bringing in some secular subjects in monastic schools.
Today, in Burma, the curricula for the various monastic examinations focus exclusively, also narrowly, from the very beginning on the study of Pali and the TipiTaka. No English, mathematics, geography, philosophy nor history are included because they are considered secular subjects. As a result, even educated monks find it difficult to relate the dhamma to lay people's lives.
In Thailand, too, the main curricula, such as the nak tham and the Pali parian, have remained exclusively religious. Although, since 1970 there has been a new curriculum, called sai saman suksa (lit. general way of education), which combines the religious and the secular, it does seem this curriculum has been forced on the leadership and has not been a well thought through policy. This curriculum has too many subjects at each level means student-monks do not have sufficient time to learn properly either Pali and Buddhism or secular subjects. In addition, this curriculum has been designed neither to replace nor to complement the traditional religious curricula, such as the nak tham and the parian curricula. It has thus the potential to distract, which I think it has done, the young monks from the nak tham and parian curricula. Indeed, its separate existence from the two highly regarded religious curricula, the nak tham and the parian, suggests that the idealists and the pragmatist have yet to work out the objectives of monastic education."...
Presented at the conference on "Burmese Buddhism
and the Spirit Cult Revisited - Revisiting Buddhism and the spirit cult in Burma [and Thailand]...
at Stanford University, USA by
Venerable Khammai Dhammasami, Oxford University, UK, 22-23 May 2004|