Friday, November 23, 2007

Wat Pa Pao (Shan Temple in Chiangmai, Thailand)

Wat Pa Pao is a Buddhist temple situated in the center of the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai, just outside the old city wall and moat. It was founded over 400 years ago by a Shan, and today serves as the main community center for Shans in Chiang Mai.

In February 1997, the Abbot of the temple, with other community leaders, set up a foundation at the temple with the aim of promoting the education of Shan people and the preservation of their culture.

The foundation, which is officially registered with the Thai government, is named the Wat Pa Pao Foundation to Support Education, Art, and Culture. With support from the Japanese Embassy, the foundation was able to start an adult education school at the temple.
The Wat Pa Pao Adult Education School was officially opened on 11 October 1998, in conjunction with the Thai Non-formal Education Department. When the school opened, there were 131 students. This has increased to over 187, with a waiting list of many more.

The school teaches a basic Thai curriculum and is intended to provide Shan youth in Chiang Mai with literacy skills that will enable them to improve their job opportunities and future in Thailand. While the classes are in Thai, the various extra-curricular activities are all aimed at promoting the Shan culture. The school has thus proved extremely popular among the Shan youth in Chiang Mai, who have flocked to the classes both to improve their education and to join in community activities aimed at preserving their own culture.

The initial grant from the Japanese Embassy was sufficient only to cover the initial start-up costs of the school, including the building of classrooms and purchase of equipment. Since the opening of the school, the operating costs of the classes, including the teachers' salaries have been covered by private donations to the foundation. Funding is urgently needed to continue to cover the salaries of the teachers, to purchase teaching equipment and to build more classrooms at the temple, so that more students can be accepted. Anyone wishing to donate to this worthwhile project, please contact the following address:

Wat Pa Pao Foundation Wat Pa Pao 58 Maneenopparat Road Sriphoom Sub-district, Muang District, Chiang Mai Thailand

As the focal point for Shan culture in Chiang Mai, Wat Pa Pao hosts many events each year. One of the biggest celebrations each year is the annual Poi Sang Long festival. This year it will be celebrated at Wat Pa Pao during the first week of April.

Wat Pa Pao also has Shan books and magazines available for purchase.

If you would like to contact Wat Pa Pao, you may write, call, fax, or E-mail:

58 Maneenopparat Road,
Sriphoom Sub-District,
Muang District, Chiang Mai
Tel/fax (053) 418046

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