The impact of climate change on education in Mongolia
Climate change is a risk multiplier, threatening to undermine the progress achieved in promoting development over the last few decades. The education sector, however, has been underrepresented in global climate change discussions. Indeed, no single National Adaptation Programme of Action (or the subsequent National Adaptation Plans) in the East Asia and Pacific region highlights the education sector as being at risk. However, in the 2018 climate change negotiations, delegates recognized the importance of including education in the Nationally Determined Contributions of countries, highlighting the increasing significance of exploring the links between education and climate change (UNFCCC, 2018).
The current study was launched by UNICEF with the overall aim of gathering evidence on impacts of climate change on education sector, enhancing awareness and understanding among key stakeholders, enabling cross-country comparison of climate change actions in education, and facilitating sharing of good practices and lessons learned in the region.
The study indicates that climate trends, including more extreme winter conditions (leading to more severe dzuds and greater use of coal which in turn leads to air pollution), heavier summer precipitation (leading to flash floods), and more extreme summers (leading to both more severe droughts and more severe dzuds), all have a significant impact on Mongolia’s education sector. The main impacts include reduced access to education – especially in the harsh, cold winters when roads are impassable or too dangerous, and after flash floods when roads are destroyed – as well as missing school or dropping out of school due to health complications (particularly in winter). These trends result in lower attendance rate, and potentially impact learning outcomes. Livelihood concerns are also widespread with herding families being particularly dependent on favourable weather conditions to make a living and obtain sufficient income to send children to school. In addition to these concerns, schools have also reported insufficient access to water and sanitation facilities, food insecurity and access to energy as important issues that affect students’ well-being during climate-related disasters.
Given the potential for climate change to hamper progress in education, education authorities need to prioritize efforts to ensure universal education through four interrelated activities: