President stresses importance of modern education for monks


 Ven. Opalle Gnanasiri Thera, Head of the Vidyaratne Pirivena, tying a pirith noola, on President Mahinda Rajapaksa to invoke blessings on the President and the country after the latter opened a new Building at the Vidyaratne Pirivena, Horana.Pic by Dharmasena Welipitiya

BY Harischandra Gunaratna

President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Saturday said that monks should not only learn the religion but other subjects and other disciplines such as languages, literature, technology, art, medicine etc.

Speaking after declaring open a new a theatre the President said, "We need to uphold the ‘Maha Vihara’ traditions which helped this country become a great nation and Bhikkus should learn not only Pali and Sanskrit but also English and IT."

He emphasised the need to modernise the country’s Bhikku education and the importance of learning computer science to keep abreast with other developed nations.

President Rajapaksa said that Ven. Ananda Maithriya Thera had learnt IT when he was 97 years old and Dr. Walpola Rahula had done so in his twilight years. Scholar Monk Ven. Thotagamuwe Rahula had been honoured with the title of ‘Shad Bhasa Parameswara’ for his linguistic excellence in six languages, the President added, urging the present-day monks to emulate such erudite Theras who had done the country proud. "I am proud that the Vidyaratne Pirivena, one of the foremost institutions in Pirivena education which also teaches lay students in the country, has moved away from tradition and included modern subjects such as Information Technology, English and Aesthetic Studies among others in its curriculum," Rajapaksa said.

"Vidayaratne Pirivena is an educational institution which would pave the way for its students to conquer the world with the type of education it provides," he said.

The President said that children engaged in aesthetic studies were never misled and became good citizens and excelled.

President Rajapakse said he, too, had acted in a couple of films and teledramas and acting had stood him in good stead during troubled times.

This government would support any endeavour to uplift the standards in education and from the recent budget, the government had increased the allocations for Pirivena Education by 117 percent and for lay students by 265 percent, the President pointed out adding that both ruling party and opposition parliamentarians had forgotten to talk about it.

An educational institution was there not only to teach clever students but also to make weak students strong and Vidyaratne Pirivena was one of the institutions moving in that direction, Rajapaksa said.

The President emphasised the need to discipline children. He said that recently there had been a clash between the students of two schools in Kandy. They should be able to control themselves, he said.

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