History of the revival of sikkhamana training at Songdhammakalyani: at the actual accepted bhikkhuni ordination which took place in 1998, there were no sikkhamanas.
The candidates were not even samaneris previously; they were only silmatas having taken the 10 precepts. However, they were accepted because of long seniority as dasasilmatas and some of them had spent some 20-30 years as silmatas (dasasilmata means ‘mother’ who takes the ten precepts).
With clear support from the Tripitaka (the three main Buddhist teachings), Ven. Dhammananda was the first to reintroduce the sikkhamana training on the path to becoming a bhikkhuni (fully ordained female monk). The ancient texts clearly state that samaneri (novice) ordination comes before sikkhamana ordination therefore sikkhamana is higher than samaneri.
In the bhikkhuni patimokkha itself, there are at least 15 precepts in the pacittiya section which instruct how a bhikkhuni should train as a sikkhamana.
In 2009, for the first time, Ven. Dhammananda introduced sikkhamana ordination by Thai bhikkhunis at Songdhammakalyani where she invited the most senior bhikkhunis from other aramas (temples) to join in order to form a proper sangha (minimum 5).
The second sikkhamana ordination in 2012 was conducted in southern Thailand, in Koh Yoh, with 8 candidates before they eventually became bhikkhunis in 2014.
At the moment, in March 2023, there are no women training as sikkhamanas.