Buddhist monks crossing the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh for final exam.
Before the French organized a Western-style educational system, the Buddhist wat, with monks as teachers, provided the only formal education in Cambodia. The monks traditionally regarded their main educational function as the teaching of Buddhist wisdom and history and the importance of gaining merit. At the wat schools, young boys were taught to read and to write Khmer, and they were instructed in the rudiments of Buddhism.
It is traditional practice in Khmer society for young people to be ordained as monks at a Buddhist pagoda. Last Friday I met with a couple of senior high school students who live in the pagoda as monks in Phnom Penh city. They are going to take final exam of Buddhist teachings at the morning and they invited me to go to their school.