Mongolia commits to transform its education system
Future of education is discussed by stakeholders at the national consultation
A national consultation on Transforming Education was held on 5 July in Ulaanbaatar with over 130 participants representing 44 state and non-state actors, including children and youth, and international organizations. A safe, quality, and flexible education system, incorporating lifelong learning opportunities and equal access to digital technologies, was envisaged as the future of education in Mongolia. Five sets of commitments and policy recommendations on transforming the country’s education system into the one based on needs and linked to job opportunities was endorsed at the consultation. Mongolia’s commitments to transform the education system in the country to meet the needs of the XXI century are to be presented at the Transforming Education Summit (TES) to be convened during the 77-th General Assembly in September.
Prior to the national consultation, a series of sub-national and national level dialogues were organized under the leadership of Mongolia’s Minister for Education and Science, Enkh-Amgalan Luvsantseren, who believes that “more participation means less mistakes”. “The consultations should result in identifying good solutions to ensure every child’s right to development and committing for implementing those,” explained Minister L.Enkh-Amgalan. He highlighted that his Ministry, for the first time in its history, was able to consult with such a wide range of players to discuss the much-needed transformation in Mongolia’s education system. The consultations gave voice to youth, educators, policy-makers, private sector and civil society organizations, urban and rural dwellers, children and parents, boys and girls, women and men from 10 to over 60 years old, representing different social groups.
"Transformation of education is essential to unlock a breakthrough towards a safer, more equal and peaceful future. In this context, countries are encouraged to hold inclusive, multi-sectoral consultations to develop a shared vision and commitments at highest level to transform education."
The Transforming Education consultations were held as a part of the United Nations member states supported Our Common Agenda, a policy blueprint aimed at accelerating progress towards Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially after the damages and backslides caused by COVID-19 pandemic. The United Nations Secretary General’s Transforming Education initiative put forward at Our Common Agenda facilitation discussion with heads of states in 2021, was broadly accepted as a basis for achieving all SDGs by 2030. Hence United Nations Resident Coordinator’s Office in Mongolia, UNICEF and UNESCO co-organized the consultations and dialogues held with a broad range of stakeholders in Mongolia.
“Transformation of education is essential to unlock a breakthrough towards a safer, more equal and peaceful future. In this context, countries are encouraged to hold inclusive, multi-sectoral consultations to develop a shared vision and commitments at highest level to transform education, “ said the UN Resident Coordinator in Mongolia, Tapan Mishra, addressing the participants of the national consultation. “Progress in SDG 4 on Education plays pivotal role for advancing the multi-dimensional and integrated nature of the 2030 Agenda.”
At the Transforming Education pre-summit held in June in Paris, Mongolia showcased some notable achievements in digital learning set in place during COVID-19 lockdowns and school closures. However, there were challenges as well. Thus, according to the Ministry of Education and Science data, one out of three school children in Mongolia is at a high risk of learning loss due having been unable to access distance learning. Children with disabilities, children from vulnerable social groups, and children who live in violence were reported to having experienced a digital divide due to lack of access to technologies and/or ability to beneficially use those for extracting information and facilitating knowledge.
“Based on our experiences and efforts of delivering an uninterrupted education during the pandemic there is no question that hybrid learning is to be firmly set in our education system,” says Sanjaabadam Sed, the Academic Secretary of the Mongolian National Institute of Education Research. “Digital learning experience has pointed at our weak and strong sides. Using new technologies and innovation, keenly supported by the Mongolian Ministry of Education and Science, is the basis of the digital transformation of Mongolia’s education system,” added Ms Sanjaabadam.
Re-training of teachers, re-formulating the pedagogical teaching approaches and standards to ensure the quality of teaching through all levels of education starting from pre-school to academia were identified as the key areas of a successful transformation in the sector. As none of these massive changes can be introduced without sustainable and sufficient funding, discussions on education finance were facilitated as a part of the transforming education discourse. The participants agreed that financing of education shouldn’t mainly rely on state subsidies as it is now. It was advised that education should be able to attract private sector support and involvement that undoubtedly can become a powerful enabler for the system of education of the future.
“We, the children are grateful to you, the adults, for consulting with us on this very important topic of transforming education. It is the greatest investment you are making in the field of education. We trust you will take aboard the inputs and recommendations given by children and youth.”
17 year old Shinetungalag or Tutu, as everybody calls her, who just graduated from 11th grade of the secondary school 122 in Ulaanbaatar, said at one of the consultations: “We, the children are grateful to you, the adults, for consulting with us on this very important topic of transforming education. It is the greatest investment you are making in the field of education. We trust you will take aboard the inputs and recommendations given by children and youth.”
Indeed, the adults respected Tutu’s and her peer’s wishes. The participatory exercise of consultations on how to transform education to meet the challenges of the future and create the basis for a prosperous, happy, and healthy society, held across the entire country, has already given promising results. The ideas, raised by the stakeholders, were taken aboard by the law-makers and were reflected in the revisions of the draft legislative package on education to be submitted to Mongolia’s Parliament this fall.