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A Gateway to Learning: "Modern Education" in the Monastery

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Demographic, migrational, and educational shifts in Nepal have placed tremendous pressure on monastic institutions in the Himalayan region, especially in Nepal. Increasingly, Himalayan families are opting to have fewer children. At the same time, those families are spending more time each year in Kathmandu or migrating out of Nepal, instead of residing in their high Himalayan villages. Concomitantly, the increasing number of secular schools and secular job opportunities, both in rural districts and Kathmandu, have resulted in families from high altitude districts choosing government and private schools over sending their sons and daughters to be ordained as Buddhist monks and nuns. However, some monasteries have responded to these pressures through reforming their curricula to provide a secular education alongside monastic training. I focus here on one such "monastic institute" in the Pokhara region in which officials expect that a high percentage of school-age boys who enter the monastery will leave as young adults and engage in secular work. In response to these pressures, this monastic institute provides a modern education alongside contemporary monastic training. From the point of view of monastic officials, what is the value of being trained in a monastery to work in secular vocations? How does the monastic institute work with local secular schools to define a modern education for Himalayan children? This research has implications for ascertaining the future development of the educational sector in the Himalayas as well as the future of institutionalized Himalayan Buddhism writ large.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEducational transformations and avenues of learning : Anthropological perspectives on education in Nepal
EditorsKaren Valentin, Uma Pradhan
PublisherOxford University Press
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020

    Research areas

  • Nepal, Buddhism, Demographic change, transnational

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