Today, growing numbers of boys come to Luang Prabang in the hope of being admitted to a temple as a novice so they can receive regular meals and a full education supplemented with studies on Buddhist topics.
The Buddhist Secondary School of Luang Prabang was established in 1955 and was originally situated within the town. It soon expanded both with a growing body of students and also in its locations as the original building started to exceed its physical capacity. The local Buddhist community, called the Buddhist Sangha, recognised the need for additional educational facilities and acquired land in an area called Vat Pa Pha O, some 10km north of Luang Prabang. Their ambition was to create a secondary and tertiary teaching facility with living and meditation quarters, open air teaching rotundas, a traditional arts and craft school and a temple for formal ceremonies. All of this with new services and an infrastructure.
The Foundation was approached by the Buddhist Heritage Project for funding as in part as there was a desperate need for more classrooms but also in part to act as a critical catalyst for their continued fundraising to expand the educational site. The Foundation initially provided a capital grant to fund the construction of purpose built classrooms and a teacher’s and administration rooms. As with other projects, any building work was undertaken cognisant of the traditional Buddhist methods. Once the first school building was completed, it became apparent that there was an ever increasing demand for student places. The Foundation then provided a second grant as a contribution towards the construction of a new wing. By this time local and external interest in the project had started to grow so much so that the majority of funding for this new wing came from the local community in the form of donations and physical labour.
The number of students at the school had been increasing each year as had the demand for school places. To accommodate growth of the school the Foundation provided a third grant for an additional school building. Construction of this building began in summer 2014 and was completed at the end of summer 2015. There are now three school buildings with facilities for over 350 students including a library and an IT centre.