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Making education possible in Mongolia

In many parts of Mongolia, such as Uvurhangai Province, communities still pursue a traditional herders’ existence, making it difficult for families to send their children to school. Now World Vision, an international non-governmental organisation, has made early learning possible for thousands of young Mongolians by setting up specially furbished tents, called yurts or gers. These traditional round dwellings can accommodate 20 children between the ages of two and six, and host ger kindergarten summer programmes for one month per year.

The gers are usually set up close to where herder families have established base camps in the steppes for the season. Parents bring their children to school in the morning and pick them up later in the day. Each site comprises two gers – one for the classroom and the other for the kitchen and feeding area. A simple ablution block is nearby. In conjunction with other organisations, World Vision has equipped each ger camp with solar panels for lighting, books, sleeping gear and other equipment.

Despite their apparent flimsy appearance, gers are stable structures – two main posts and symmetrically radiating poles act as supporting beams for the felt and plastic structures. Books and instructional materials line the walls of the ger kindergarten, instead of the usual household items.

In late 2012, Japan and the World Bank pledged to inject US$2. 5 million into the development of primary education in rural Mongolia. The grant is aimed specifically at helping nomadic children adjust to more formal school settings, which should improve academic outcomes and reduce the rate of school drop-out.

Category: Winter 2013

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