Life of Government Students in Monastery

In this article, I will try to give you a closer look of the basic day and life in the monastery from the perspective of Government Students. So, in an interview with 3 brave volunteers, whom I chose not so randomly, I gathered the following information :D. I would also like to point out that this is not a critique of life here in the monastery, the purpose of this article is not to denigrate the monastery. The leadership of the monastery have my respect. The way how they lead the monastery, with the minimum of financial resources, staff, premises, and lots of students. It’s incredible how they handle it. And the idea of the chief monk Phone Phone Jhi also deserves a compliment, trying to give education to everyone regardless of the financial situation.

All Goverment students get up at 4:30 after the alarm clock, which is given by university students and local volunteers. They are going to the toilet to pee and wash their face.

At 4:45 they all go together to the pagoda, where they learn whatever they have for their lectures just next to the pagoda

At 5:00 they start praying in the pagoda. The morning prayer consists of 30 minutes of praying and after praying 10 minutes of meditation. After meditation 5 min of preaching. In the preaching, monks evaluate student behavior and talk about what to do and how to behave. Right after that, University students have small speech about don’t do like that, do that. Especially the university students boys are speaking. Rarely girls.

Most students do not like praying. Mainly because they are sleepy and sleepless in the morning. Some students fall asleep or sleep there. Sometimes the pace of praying is very fast or very slow, which is also unsatisfactory for many. Another stumbling block is the place where they pray, are overcrowded, and some do not feel comfortable there, so they tend to pray themselves in the evenings. Going to the pagoda is compulsorily a rule when someone does not go and falls asleep get a punishment. Punishment is a battle with a wooden mallet (physically punishment). Long wooden stick, hit on hips. If they don’t come three times, they’re called parents. When they are good and adhere to the rules they get oral praise. The students we’re interviewing here are just kidding, and they don’t suffer and laugh at it when they get punishment. They know that they are fooling. They don’t worry about getting by stick. “.

From 6:00 – 6:15 they have a warm-up in the form of a spartakiade. Everybody jumps and swirls together, strange but guys like it, girls don’t.

Exactly 6:30 is breakfast. Breakfast time is only 15 minutes.

“15 minutes to eat (at all courses) are due to the large number of students and not the large dining are. They just have to free up space for other groups”

“Most often they have rice with potatoes. They don’t like  breakfast very much, neither rice nor potatoes, it keeps repeating. They would rather eat donuts, pork chicken, chilli with peanuts, pizza or hamburger. “

After breakfast, they quickly wash their teeth and go to the toilet. Then they have time to dress in school uniforms and get ready for school.

“In the morning, none of them is taking a shower because they think it is still cold, so even if they are after a warm-up, nobody is taking a shower.”

7:30 – 8:15 lecture with me.

8: 20-11: 15 Government school.

9th grade students have 6 subjects in the school, 3 subjects in the morning 3 subjects in the afternoon and are divided into, lets say, majors. Some have chemistry, english, biology in the morning and in the afternoon myanmar, physics, mathematics. Others have myanmar, history (world and myanmar), mathematics in the morning and economics, english and geography afternoons. Every day 6 subjects, every day is the same.

“Students had serious problems telling us what they were learning, perhaps because they didn’t learn but memorized and then couldn’t use their knowledge. They learn to memorize texts and whole books without knowing what it means. They have some subjects even in english language (eg biology). When I looked at their textbook, even I had difficulties to understand because the english level in the textbook was very high and scholarly. And funny is that the teacher who teaches them barely knows English. So the only thing they correct is whether they have memorized properly or retraced the organ exactly according to the textbook and they are not controlling whether they understand it. ”

11:15 – 12:00 Lunch time

“In the break between lunch and school, almost everyone is sleeping or learning.

12:45 – 15:45 Government school

After school, students have time off and take a shower.

Then they have several options on how to use their free time.

Many students play football and volleyball after school.

I must say they’re really good at it. Especially in volleyball. As a university volleyball player, I must admit that at their age, they are seriously skilled in volleyball and their motor skills are much better than by children in Europe. ”

“One of my observations is that girls aren’t doing sports here. There is a stereotype / dogma sport and movement is not for girls. ”

Dinner is at 17:30 pm and 17:45 is the end of dinner.

6: 00-7: 00 English class with my colleague Tina

Otherwise they would pray like in the morning instead of english class.

19: 00 – 20: 00 English class with Burmese volunteers, some of them are our students. They have these lectures in the pagoda where they are together about 200 students.

“Since we are teaching these Burmese volunteers, I can say that they do not know much about English, they often make mistakes, and their pronunciation went on holidays. What surprised me was that they couldn’t admit a mistake when someone from a goverment student corrected them. ”

20:00 – 21:30 at this time they study and do their homework in the dining area. 

Some of them told us that they even study longer because they have so many things to learn (memorize).”

Around 22:30 they go to bed. 

”After summarizing, I think they have 5 and a half hours of sleep, which according to my European standards is not much.”.

This is how the regular 9th grade student day looks like.

What students like and don’t like in a monastery?

They don’t like getting up. They do not like the weather, the rainy season and the winter (alibist speech when I asked them what they don’t like: D). Furthermore, they do not like school (as a normal teenagers) but they like to learn English. 

But they like living in a monastery. The student joked: because there are nice girls in the monastery. In fact, they are not allowed to hang out with the girls in the monastery.They will be kicked out of the monastery for hanging out with another sex or having a girlfrend/boyfriend. This is clearly seen in the monastery that the girls and the guys are very separated. In the classes, each gender sits on a different side of the class. The boys only eat with the boys, the girls only with the girls. They also pray separately. In short, the guys don’t even talk to girls. I honestly try to change it in my classes but it’s really hard.

About the Collective. During the interview and during my observation on a regular day, especially among the boys, I noticed prejudice, bullying and ignorance because some students are smaller, weaker, fatter, etc.. What would probably be nothing special but so when I was in the monastery I would expect a different nature :D.

My next observation is that the age differences are between 3-4 years. This is because some students had to stop studying for a few years to help parents with the work because of the poor economic situation in their family.

After 18:00 they are forbidden to take shower because the showers are open air and only with cold water. Plus when the temperature fluctuates around 22 degrees, everyone is already wearing hoodies and some of them caps.

In conclusion, I would like to add that the life in the monastery is not really bad for students. From what I have heard, this monastery is one of the most developed and best equipped in Shanstate. Maybe only us, spoiled Europeans, seem to be living in a monastery like ‘How to survive’ 😀 .

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