On November 19, Ciyou Temple in Songshan district held its biannual Scholarship and Grants award ceremony: a total of 2,479 students from disadvantaged backgrounds were awarded an NT$6,350,000 scholarship (approximately US$187,000).
Representatives received the prize from the hands of chairman Chen Yufeng (陳玉峰).
Throughout his speech, Chen Yufeng exhorted the students to work diligently so as to acquire the skills necessary to eventually “give back to society”. This way, he said, the “virtuous circle [would] go on.”
Ciyou Temple is renowned for its long-standing work in assisting low-income students access proper education. Scholarships are awarded twice a year to hundreds of students from senior high schools and professional training colleges in Songchan, Xinyi, Daan, Nangang, Neihu and New Taipei City; aside from that, Ciyou often donates teaching equipment to neighboring schools. As further proof of its commitment to learning, the temple boasts two libraries on site.
Ciyou is one of many temples in Taiwan that provides financial assistance to students in need such as Guandu Temple, Xingtian Temple, and the famous Longshan Temple. Scholarships are awarded to students from primary school all the way to University and include research grants for college students. The recipients are usually distinguished by good conduct and an above-average GPA.
Historically, temples have long played a crucial role in education in Southeast Asia: in Thailand, it was notably within Buddhist temples that boys from both disadvantaged and wealthy families would learn to read so as to understand the scriptures (girls were confined to domestic work). Fo Guang Shan, the largest Buddhist monastery in Taiwan, operates a number of schools throughout the island and established its own University in the 2000s.