International Buddhist Academy project launched with Norwegian assistance

By L.B.Senaratne, Daily Mirror, Nov 1, 2008

Colombo, Sri Lanka -- The Anunayake of the Asgiriya Chapter the Venerable Panditha Galagama Atthadassi Thera said that Norway had a  poor reputation in Sri Lanka but perhaps they would have realised now that Sri Lanka is committed for genuine peace through the teachings of the Buddha.

Speaking at the exchange of the Memorandum of Understanding on the establishment of the International Buddhist Academy at Pallekelle  which is to be funded by the Government of Norway the Thera said that if this realization had come it is most welcome.

The Mahanayake of Malwatta Venerable Tibbotuwawe Sri Siddhartha Sumangala Thera presided at the ceremony. The Anunayake of Malwatta Venerable Panditha Niyangoda Vijithasiri Thera was also present.

The Anunayake of Asgiriya further said that this International Buddhist Academy would pave the way for future development of Buddhism through training of the Sangha and also laymen for the betterment of Buddhism.

The Royal Norwegian Ambassador Tore Hattrem said that he appreciates that the Academy would be opened to students from all backgrounds and that the curriculum will cover important academic areas such as languages, social and natural science, conflict resolution, human rights, in addition to the teaching of the Dhamma. "What makes Buddhism unique is its scientific and logical explanation of life.  The Buddha preached to us that we are responsible for our lives and the environment and the Buddha's teaching of peace is practiced as a way of life and is more relevant today than ever before,” Ambassador Hattrem said.

He said the International Buddhist Academy is a unique liberal arts higher education institution to be established in Sri Lanka set up in a monastic and eco-friendly environment. “Both local and global based in Buddhist principles and open to local and International students, he said.

The Diyawadana Nilame Nilanga Dela Bandara said that if leaders are properly educated and trained it can transform communities and societies. “The aim of the proposed Sri Dalada International Buddhist Academy is to provide the opportunity and facilities needed on a formally organized basis to individuals, communities and societies who are interested in becoming and having such leadership. This is the surest way to promote and propagate enlightened forms of democratic organizations leading up to governmental and intergovernmental levels which could be seen from development that have led to the formation of organizations like the European Union, ASEAN and SAARC,” he said.

Diyawadana Nilame Pradeep Nilanga Dela said that it is proposed to launch the academic programmes of the Academy in January with the commencement of a four year BA special Degree programme in Buddhist Leadership.  Students would be chosen nationally and internationally and the programme would be open to members of both monastic and lay communities as well as males and females.

The Mahanayake of Malwatta Most Venerable Thibottuwawe Sri Siddhartha Sumngala Thera said that there has been a need for a Buddhist Academy for some time and the willingness of Norway to initiate this Academy is laudable.  The Thera said that a number of other countries have shown their interest in this project and it is hoped that they could also be made partners in this project.