Buddhist NGO teaching spirituality to children and convicts

Located in the village of Kampong Seima in the commune of Wat Kor, in the city of Battambang in the province of Battambang, the NGO Buddhism for Education in Cambodia (BEC) has been carrying out its mission for a decade of disseminating Buddhist knowledge to of the Cambodian people in order to promote good morals, good manners and a virtuous life while teaching the inhabitants of the Kingdom Buddhist traditions and customs.

The BEC has focused more on educating children in its work in recent years, said Nhory Saratt, director of the BEC language school.

“The five BEC projects were originally the Youth Education Project, the Prisoner Education Project, the Dharma Dissemination Program, the Orphan Assistance Program, and the Poor and to the elderly, all of which have been ongoing since 2012, but we took a step further in 2017 when we opened the BEC school,” he explained.

He went on to say that the first branch of BEC School opened in the compound of Vibol Tharam Pagoda (also called Wat Kandal Pagoda) in Rumcheck IV Village of Ratanak Township in Battambang City. .

On Mondays at school, students receive training in the teachings of Buddha and how to lead a moral life. From Tuesday to Friday, students learn English from 3 to 6 p.m., while on Saturday and Sunday, they learn Chinese from 1 to 3 p.m.

He explained that the purpose of the school was to provide the children of the community with knowledge of foreign languages ​​as well as Buddhist knowledge and life skills so that they grow up properly and become well-behaved Buddhist followers.

The youth education project consists of classes taught at three other schools – Wat Kampheng Primary School, Kampong Seima Primary School and Wat Kor Secondary School in Battambang city.

The Venerable Tuon Phally, Head of Youth Education Project at BEC, said the educational objectives of the courses included teaching students good morals, conduct and manners so that students are provided with knowledge on Buddhism as well as secular subjects. moral education apart from religious instruction.

Make the difference

Over seven levels, Wat Kor Secondary School has 190 students, while Wat Kampheng Primary School has 500 students and the smallest, Kampong Seima Primary School, has only 35 students, for a total of 725 students participating. to the project this year.

“In addition, we have short teaching programs in high schools and Buddhist study groups in Battambang province and other provinces such as Pursat, Banteay Meanchey Pailin, Siem Reap, Kampong Thom, Kampong Chhnang and Oddar Meanchey.

“We received a lot of gratitude and thanks from the parents of the students who received a moral education from the BEC. They said they saw a difference in their children or grandchildren in terms of behavior and that their morale is better now. For example, their lyrics are more respectful of older people and they understand better what is good and what is bad. They are more grateful to their parents and they help with household chores and do similar good deeds for their family and in society,” he said.

Venerable Hak Sienghai, Founder and Director of BEC, said the aim of their classes was for students to feel gratitude towards their parents and inspire them to study hard and be good children in order to give thanks. Students learn about Buddhism, merits, good deeds and bad deeds and how to stay away from vices so that one day they will become good citizens as members of the national society.

He added that the morality in the society has declined greatly as some youngsters associated with bad people and committed immoralities such as robbery, murder, violence, arguments and especially getting into trouble by drinking alcohol. .

He said that alcohol is one of the major factors that can lead to the loss of a moral mindset in young people, as it lowers their inhibitions and makes it easier for them to indulge in vices.

“With this Dharma teaching, we educate prisoners who have wronged others to turn to righteous living and through these interactions they receive warmth and attention from monks who encourage them to start over with a new way of life,” Sienghai said.

Chhean Ratanak, principal of the American high school, said he had also witnessed a general decline in the morality of young people.

“We all recognize that there has been a decline in morality among young people in this modern age, but it’s usually not because they’re bad kids, it’s often because they don’t have not the right educators and because of social factors around them like their family situation that their children cannot control,” he said.

Dul Vanny, project manager for the BEC program to help the poor and the elderly. He said that every Friday, a team of volunteer monks from the BEC will help educate all prisoners in Battambang Provincial Jail on the morals and teachings of Buddha as part of the BEC prisoner outreach program.

“Prisoners appreciate this educational program and have asked us to continue or even expand it. Not only that, they also want to start a training program for traditional Khmer musical instruments,” said Dul Vanny.

Battambang Provincial Prison Deputy Chief Keu Sen said he supports the BEC program because it provides prisoners with valuable moral education and reminds them that if they can change, they will be welcome back in the prison. society.

He added that the provincial prison has also set up a reading library for inmates with the support of the French NGO Sipar, but it needs many more books than it currently has.

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