Ngo Yen Thi, Chairman of the Government Committee for Religious Affairs, extended his best wishes to the VBS dignitaries, monks and nuns. He praised the great contributions made by the VBS to national construction and defence over the past 23 years. He hoped that the VBS would continue to develop and become a common house through which Vietnamese Buddhist monks, nuns and followers at home and abroad could contribute to the development of global Buddhism.
Most Venerable Thich Thanh Tu, Vice President of the VBS's Executive Council, thanked the Party, State and Fatherland Front for their assistance to the VBS and pledged to contribute more to the development of the nation and Buddhism.
Vietnam currently has 40,000 monks and nuns, around 10 million Buddhist followers, and 14,500 worshipping places. Every year, hundreds of pagodas and worshipping places are built or repaired with the donations of followers at home and abroad.
Construction of the Vietnam Buddhist Institute began in Hanoi's outlying district of Soc Son last Saturday.
Vietnam has established three Buddhist institutes in Hanoi, the central city of Hue and Ho Chi Minh City, with the enrolment of 1,000 monks and nuns. In addition, there are five colleges and 30 junior colleges teaching Buddhism, which presently train nearly 4,000 monks and nuns, along with hundreds of classes organised by the VBS's chapters at localities.
Hundreds of monks and nuns are taking courses at Buddhist institutes in 10 countries and territories, including India with some 200 Vietnamese students. Many of these graduates, with many holding M.A and Ph.D degrees, are holding important posts at the VBS and also lecture at Buddhist schools.