Opening Doors: How English Empowers Monks in Zhemgang

In a heartening development at Zhemgang Monastic School, the revival of the English teaching program has sparked a renewed zeal for learning among the resident monks. This initiative, supported by Zhemgang’s education sector, marks a significant step forward after the program’s hiatus a year ago due to a shortage of English teachers.

For centuries, the monastic education system in Bhutan focused on the preservation of Buddhist teachings and cultural heritage. While this rich tradition remains the bedrock of their lives, the world outside is evolving at a rapid pace. Globalization has woven its intricate threads into every corner of the planet, and English has become the lingua franca of this interconnected heritage. Recognizing this, the Zhemgang Monastic School’s decision to bring back English lessons is a step towards bridging the gap between tradition and modernity.

Imagine a young monk, steeped in Buddhist philosophy, now able to access a vast trove of knowledge in English. He can delve into academic discourses on ethics, delve into scientific advancements that improve the lives of his community, or converse with foreign visitors, sharing the wisdom of his tradition with a global audience. English becomes a key that unlocks doorways to deeper understanding, broader perspectives, and meaningful engagement with the world.

The benefits extend beyond the intellectual. English empowers monks to become effective advocates for their values and causes. They can now articulate the intricate beauty of their faith, the delicate balance they strive to maintain with nature, and the unique cultural heritage of Bhutan to a wider, often English-speaking audience. This empowers them to participate in interfaith dialogues, contribute to environmental discussions, and build bridges of understanding across cultural divides.

The English teaching program has evolved to include instruction on sentence structure, aiming to enhance monks’ communication skills and broaden their intellectual horizons. A recent class test was conducted to assess the learners and gauge the program’s effectiveness.

In a notable shift from the historical focus on scriptures and beliefs in Bhutanese Buddhist monasteries, there is a growing interest among monks in subjects like English. This enthusiasm signifies a positive step towards a more diverse and comprehensive education, aligning traditional teachings with contemporary global demands.

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