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Searching for a Khmer Monastic Higher Education in Post-Socialist Vietnam – Philip Taylor

Philip Taylor (2016) "Searching for a Khmer Monastic Higher Education in Post-Socialist Vietnam" in Philip Taylor eds. Connected and disconnected in Viet Nam : remaking social relations in a post-socialist nation, Canberra: ANU Press.

In 2015 I met a 32-year-old man from a small village in Trà Vinh, a province of the Mekong Delta which is home to many of Vietnam’s ethnic minority Khmer. He had grown up in a family of landless farmers in a village that only recently had been connected to a sealed road.

Like many Khmer students in this remote and impoverished province, he had dropped out of state school after only five years, and his Vietnamese was not good. He had, however, studied for several years in temple schools in his district where, while ordained as a monk, he had learnt to read and write Khmer. 

The Buddhist temples in his home province are linked in an educational network comprising 144 campuses that provide schooling in numerous subjects up to Grade 12. Despite its size and sophistication, this autonomous, religious-based education network is relatively obscure, even among Vietnamese people, for the education it provides is entirely in Khmer.

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