Plutaluang school principal under fire for nun-ordination project

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Plutaluang residents boycotted Baan Khao Baisri School’s drive to ordain young women as nuns after the school’s director allegedly caused local monks to lose face and gossiping residents spread rumors about the school principal’s behavior.

Principal Kesara Puaknang had planned to oversee the ordination up to 350 area girls as Buddhist nuns in a ceremony beginning Dec. 16. Despite the service being offered free to residents, no one turned up.

Puzzled by the snub, Kesara discovered that local village chiefs, community leaders and parents had forbid women to attend, claiming the school director was recruiting for a religious cult.

Baan Khao Baisri School Principal Kesara Puaknang talks to Pattaya Mail about her allegedly unauthorized drive to ordain young women as nuns. Baan Khao Baisri School Principal Kesara Puaknang talks to Pattaya Mail about her allegedly unauthorized drive to ordain young women as nuns.

Plutaluang District headsman Sumethee Siripan said Kesara had launched her nun drive without knowledge or support from the community, including the Khao Baisri Temple itself. Even worse, he said, she recruited monks from outside the area to ordain the girls, causing local monks to lose face.

He further questioned whether nuns ordained in the school-based ceremony would be taught correct principles or would be misguided into believing that the more money one contributes to a temple, the greater the moral value of the deed. Too many people, he said, have been taken down that path before by untrained clerics.

Kesara maintained that the ordination project was completely legitimate and that she held a master’s and doctoral degree in such fields. However, she admitted that her academic pursuits had been attacked in the past and that’s why she turned to religious teaching, hoping to encourage the learning of Dharma and Buddhist lessons.

Kesara’s zeal for teaching Dharma, however, has drawn criticism from parents and community leaders. Sumethee accused the principal of taking students on unauthorized temple pilgrimages without parents’ permission. He also alleged her interest in religious studies was distracting students from working on college-preparation courses.

The principal insisted that her curriculum followed Chonburi government and education department policies.

Kesara said the entire incident has left her depressed and that she was saddened that her own faculty members had given “erroneous” information to community leaders, leading parents to forbid their girls in participating.