A foundation-laying ceremony of Tibetan Buddhism College is held in Lhasa, capital of southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, on Oct. 18, 2008. With a total investment of 80 million yuan (about 11 million U.S. dollars) and an area of 17.5 hectares, the college is expected to be the first comprehensive higher educational institution of Tibetan Buddhism in the region. (Xinhua Photo)
A general academy of Tibetan Buddhism, the first of its kind in the southwestern autonomous region, began construction of the 80 million yuan (11.7 million U.S. dollars) facility on Saturday.
The Tibetan Buddhism Academy in Nyetang Town, Quxu County, covers an area of 17.4 hectares. Quxu is under the jurisdiction of the regional capital Lhasa.
Its total investment is all from the central government budget.
The first phase of construction will cost about 50 million yuan and is scheduled for completion in 2010. Its design includes a library and buildings for religious activities.
"This will be the first comprehensive and high-level Tibetan Buddhism academy in Tibet," said Lobsang Gyaincain, head of the United Front Work Department of the Tibet committee of the Communist Party of China.
"The academy will contribute a lot to conducting Buddhist studies and exchanges with the outside world."
The facility aims to train patriotic and devotional religious personnel who are widely recognized both in their religious accomplishments and moral character, he added.
In addition to religious theories, students will also be taught knowledge of other disciplines such as politics and sociology.
Currently, Tibet has more than 1,700 religious venues accommodating about 46,000 monks and nuns.
Since the 1980s, the central and local governments have invested more than 700 million yuan for the preservation and maintenance of monasteries and cultural relics in Tibet. Source: Xinhua