Director of Education(Piriven)
Professor, Rajakiya Panditha
Rev Nabiriththankadawara Gnanarathana Thero
Pirivena Education today and tomorrow.
Throughout the history of Sri Lanka, Pirivena education has been subject to many changes. Sangharaja Welivita Saranankara is respected as the pioneer of the renaissance of Pirivena education after Kandy era. Even though, there had been lot of restrictions to Pirivena education during and after the colonial period. Many of today’s Pirivenas are offshoots or established under the influence of Vidyodaya and Vidyalankara Pirivenas. Once the Pirivena education was the most organized and well functioned academic system in Sri Lanka. However, the situation today is not satisfactory.
There are many reasons which affected Pirivena education. Government school system has impacted negatively due to which many educated monks selected teaching service in schools rather than Pirivenas by which Pirivena lost good teachers. By the way Pirivenas lost their independence as a traditional institute and happened to imitate school system for which wages are paid for teaching and administered by lay officers. Since the Pirivena education was aligned with schools, monk-students were also motivated to go through schools and universities losing their identity and probably monkhood. During the last few decades, political, economic and social reasons have also affected Pirivena education decisively. .
To regain historical identity and prestige of Pirivenas, the essential step to be taken is to build up the lost moral and personality of teachers and the apatite of students for Pirivena education. The curriculum and the text books have to be updated to suit to modern requirements and education methodology. Teachers should be given a proper training and opportunities for further education. Well managed Pirivenas should be strengthened and ill managed ones should be systematized or shut down for the sake of isolated monk-students. The system of appointing Pirivena teachers have to be regulated in order to make the Pirivena education a competitive. Young monks should be given higher goals to be spiritual advisors or counsellors rather than school teachers and government officers. For this, I think there is a great responsibility of both senior monks and lay devotees to look into the matter from new perspective.