Scene at the inauguration ceremony (Photo: VNA)

Can Tho (VNA) – The first phase of the construction of the Khmer Theravada Buddhist Academy was inaugurated in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho on January 9.

Located in O Mon district’s Chau Van Liem commune, the academy, the first of its kind in Vietnam, consists of 19 buildings spanning 6.7 hectares. Estimated to cost 451 billion VND (19.6 million USD), the building of the academy has three phases.

Speaking at the inauguration event, Most Venerable Thach Sok Xane, Vice President of the Executive Council of the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha (VBS), thanked local authorities and philanthropists for their assistance during the first phase of construction.

He said the support would contribute to the development of Khmer Theravada Buddhist education.

Truong Quang Hoai Nam, Vice Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee, said the academy has an important meaning in meeting demand from the Khmer ethnic community and realising the Party and State’s policies to support the group and the VBS.

President of the the VBS’s Executive Council, Most Venerable Thich Thien Nhon asked the VBS’s central committee to seek permission for the academy to offer masters and doctoral training.

Established in 2006 under the VBS, the academy has to date trained 200 graduates. Before the construction, its headquarters were situated at the Pothi Somron pagoda in O Mon district. 

Buddhism has been practised in Vietnam for more than 2,000 years. The country has some 12 million followers, 40,000 monks and nuns and almost 15,000 temples, monasteries and other places of worship.

According to the Government Committee for Religious Affairs, Khmer Theravada Buddhists joined the VBS in 1981. As of June 2010, they had 452 pagodas and nearly 9,000 monks, mostly in the Mekong Delta.-VNA