Published daily by the Lowy Institute. Until recently, parents in Thailand would leave their children in Buddhist temples while they worked the fields and factories. Buddhist monks would act as caretakers and teachers. Religious education was strong, as were the donations flooding into Buddhist temples.
But modern scholarship has demonstrated that prior to the development of the classical Southeast Asian states, which occurred from the tenth or eleventh century to the fifteenth century ce, Buddhism in Southeast Asia — the area covered by present-day Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia Kampuchea , and Laos — defies rigid classification. Both archaeological and chronicle evidence suggest that the religious situation in the area was fluid and informal, with Buddhism characterized more by miraculous relics and charismatic, magical monks than by organized sectarian traditions. Hence, by the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries the primary, although by no means exclusive, form of Buddhism in Burma, Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia was a Sinhala orthodoxy that was dominated doctrinally by "the commentator" Buddhaghosa but enriched by various local traditions of thought and practice. By this time, what is now Malaysia and Indonesia, with the exception of Bali, had been overrun by Islam, and the popular religion there was an amalgamation of animism, Brahmanic deities, and the religion of the Prophet.
Ciochon, R L, J James The power of Pagan Archaeology. Guillaume Rozeberg