Nunneries in Bhutan

Unlike the monasteries for men and boys that are beneficiaries of state or private support, nunneries in Bhutan receive no government funding. Private and community support is also extremely limited leaving the girls and women in many nunneries vulnerable and neglected. It is sad that so little of their potential to serve society and contribute to its collective happiness is ever realized. That such a paradoxical situation should prevail in a country which prides itself over an absence of gender bias has never been explained. One can only rationalize that this has to do with lack of resources and too many competing needs in a poor, least developed country.

Overall, almost none of Bhutan’s nunneries provide a proper learning environment. There is great potential and passion for nuns to receive a good education at nunneries.  However, the nunneries do not have any standardized curriculum or evaluation systems. Above all, they do not have qualified teachers who are committed or have the capability to give them a proper education either for spiritual enrichment or for a productive lay life upon leaving the nunneries.

Improving nuns’ living conditions and education will greatly assist in Bhutan’s drive to achieve ‘Education For All’ within the framework of GNH. A significant number of young women become nuns throughout Bhutan at some stage of their life.  As a result, it is critical that this group receives proper attention. Nuns also play a crucial role in preserving Bhutan’s traditions and culture, and thus are critical to achieving GNH.  This philosophy in essence is all about balancing material wants with spiritual needs. It appears that a woman who has spent some part of her life pursuing spirituality is likely to live her own life in moderation and contribute to the happiness of others in a world where consumer ethics prevail. Throughout the country, nuns serve as role models for grassroots women. This is especially significant now, as outside influences severely impact the traditional values of Bhutan. Helping the nuns will benefit all women and girls in Bhutan, especially in rural areas.