Education That Works

Have you ever wondered why there are so many young novice monks in Laos, especially in Luang Prabang? Our Buddhist faith in Laos is not as strict as the Myanmar, where it’s their tradition that every Myanmar Buddhist boy average age between 7 and 13 is expected to enter the monastery as a novice for a period of a few weeks to months, it’s considered to be the most important day in the boy’s life.

But in Laos, we don’t have a tradition like that, but yet we see many young novice monks at the local temples. Back in the olden days, temples were the schools, especially if you’re poor, as there was no formal education system. This makes sense because the Buddha is a teacher, and monks provide basic lesson in both spiritual and secular subjects, and for some, this might be the only way to get an education, not just in the olden days, but also in today society.

During my visit to Laos and Thailand, after we got stranded at Suvarnabhumi Airport, we went back to Vientiane Laos to catch our flight back home, and we stayed at a hotel that’s not too far from Wat Mixay. I didn’t get to take a picture of the entrance, and this is a borrowed photo from here.


My dad and I passed the temple gate, and saw school children playing in the temple ground and thought that the school must be nearby. We visited the temple and that’s when I realized that the school is at the temple, kind of surprised me at first because I didn’t expect to see this at all. The children are very happy.

When I was in Ubon Thailand, seeing a daycare at the temple is kind of odd to me also, but makes perfect sense now, this temple is Wat Don Yung.

The monks and novice monks would collect alms every morning, and they’d give some items that they collected to the young children at the daycare, especially juice, milk and snacks.

I thought this was a great idea and I didn’t know before that they have something like this in Thailand. It’s very much like the daycare in the US, but according to my cousin, they didn’t have to pay for my little cousin to attend, of course in the US, daycare is very expensive and takes precedence over anything else, even your house payment, rent or car payment, and that’s because if you don’t pay, then you can’t bring your child the following week.

A great way to make them smile is to show their picture on the LCD screen afterward, then all I heard was “Take it again…” and a big smile.