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Based on the information given in the passage answer the following questions in about 100 words.

Monasteries in Thailand are more than a place of worship for Buddhists. How are the monasteries important to the Thai people ? what do novices learn at the monasteries and what is their fate upon completion of monastic life ?

 
The Importance of Monasteries in Thailand

The number of Buddhist novice monks is rising each year in Thailand. The official figure for the year 2000 was 97 875 novices. It is easy to think that more young men are being drawn to the religious life. But according to Phra Peter Pannapadipo (an English monk who has lived in Thai monasteries for ten years and who has just written a book entitled Little Angels), this is not the reason for the increase in novices.

He said that the increase is more likely an indication of the continuing poverty and lack of opportunity among the many disadvantaged Thai families, especially in rural areas. It is a sad reflection of parents' inability to care for and educate their children.

Phra Peter Pannapadipo explains that boys from the rural areas of Thailand become novices because there is nowhere else for them to go. Sometimes their impoverished parents cannot afford to feed them or send them to school. For many boys therefore, ordaining and studying at monastic high schools is the only way they can complete their secular education. In a few monasteries, however, becoming a novice for a time is a way of testing a man's spiritual commitment to the monastic life before he becomes a monk.

The majority of novices are in their late teens, but they can be as young as seven to as old as 20. After 20, a novice is expected to be either ordained as a full monk, or disrobe entirely.

Experts say that monasteries play an important role and act as a social support system that has been around for some time. "Ordaining as a novice or a monk has been part of Thai society for a long time. This is the way the monastery and the community support each other," said a professor of' the Social Administration Faculty at Thammasat University. "In fact, providing education for young boys and sheltering them from some bad surroundings, so called `social work education', has been one of the most important roles of Thai monasteries from the beginning," she added.

Novices usually study during the week. Apart from walking on the dawn alms round and attending morning and evening services, they have their own duties. These include for example, keeping the monastery grounds swept, or preparing candles and incense for ceremonies. Their schedules can be full beginning as early as 5.00 a.m. and ending as late as 11.00 p.m.

Many novices disrobe after six years of high school studies at these monastery schools. Some return to their villages, others look for jobs in the cities. Some ambitious few, if they can find money or obtain a scholarship, pursue further studies. The rest, less than a handful, stay on to practice Buddha's teachings for the rest of their life. They look for another monastery or stay on at the present one.

 
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Answer
 
Thai monasteries play an important role in providing education to Thai boys and sheltering them from 'bad' surroundings. Often parents are too poor to keep their children at home or to send them to normal schools, so they send them to monastic schools. At the monastery, the boys receive secular and religious education and at the same time learn to keep the monastery clean and prepare incense for ceremonies. On completion of monastic life, the boys either return to their villages or look for jobs in cities. Some try to pursue their studies further or become full-time monks. ( 98 words )
     
ordain   to officially make someone a priest or other religious leader, in a religious ceremony
     
disrobe   to remove your clothes
     
 
 

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