Santi Sena is Pali for a group that works for peace, social justice, and environmental protection. Santi Sena the organization is working to improve 30 Buddhist schools in the Svey Rieng and Prey Veng provinces of Cambodia.
In the past five years, with support from KF, the Santi Sena Buddhist school and corresponding community outreach program in Svey Rieng have had a significant impact on both educational and social levels, including:
- An increased number of students studying in Buddhist primary schools, now up to 464 students
- A higher quality of Buddhist and secular education across the supported schools, including providing more Buddhist and secular books and other educational materials
- Standardization of Buddhist primary schools across the Svey Rieng province
- Increased awareness and understanding of Buddhist teachings through hosting a talk radio show, “Dharma Conversation and Meditation”
- More children, boys and girls, taking short ordinations and increased interest in parents sending children to become monks
Santi Sena started the education project by talking with stakeholders across the province to determine the greatest needs for Buddhist secondary and primary schools. They discovered multiple challenges to address, including a lack of materials and equipment at schools and low salaries for teachers. This meant that schools that could not function at their highest level.
In addition, similar to in Bhutan, one of the challenges in Cambodia is the societal shift away from children getting education at monastic settings. Particularly with the increased number of garment factories in Cambodia’s rural communities, thousands of new jobs are improving the finances of families. This, along with better government schools, has led parents to be less interested in having their children ordained. Santi Sena is working to counter this trend by increasing the quality of Buddhist education.
Building on the success of the project in Svey Rieng, Santi Sena is implementing a program to improve the quality of Buddhist education and promote Buddhist values in 10 additional Buddhist schools in Prey Veng province. The new program will adapt lessons learned from previous work at the 20 Buddhist schools in the Svey Rieng province. The program hopes to:
- Strengthen the schools through improving facilities, building capacity, and promoting awareness of Buddhism in the younger generation
- Improve the quality of Buddhist education by strengthening two Buddhist secondary and eight Buddhist primary schools
- Promote awareness of the dangers of drug use, as well as the importance of Khmer culture and Buddhist values in the rural communities of Prey Veng