annual debate examination 10The annual debating examination of Sera Mey student monks took place from 10th to 14th October, in which 560 monks participated. There were 12 classes being examined, and some classes have more than 70 students. All the senior student monks of the monastery, those involved in the Geluk examinations and this year’s final Geshe Lharampa monks, 112 monks in all, also participated in the annual examination as observers.

This is a very important occasion both for the younger generations of the monastery’s student monks, as these senior monks are their role model, and also for the Abbot, DisciplinaryMasterand the education committees, as these senior monks, who are completing their long training, are the monastery’s great ornaments.

The students being examined were divided into three groups; and each group had five examiners, who are Geshe Lharampa and who assign marks individually to each student’s debating skills. The debating questions are prepared by the monastery’s education department, and questions for each class of students are enclosed in a box, which is sealed by the committee of examiners.

Each class of students under examination has a particular turn in the debating examination, and for each turn, two staff monks of the education department come to the front of the hall with the sealed question box and open it in front of the all classes in that group. In that box there is a big envelope, in which all the questions are enclosed. In that envelope, there is a set of many small individual envelopes and each envelope contains one question to be debated; and these envelopes are placed on the table of the examiners. When an examiner rings a bell and calls the name of a student, that individual stands up and picks out one envelope from that set, and has five minutes to prepare his debating point according to the question in that envelope. After five minutes another bell rings, and the monk has to start his allotted fifteen minutes’ debating time to put forward his proposition and then another fifteen minutes to answer his opponent’s counter arguments.