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FEATURE STORY September 20, 2019

In Mongolia, Parent-Teacher Associations are Improving Learning Outcomes and School Transparency



  • Closer ties between parents and teachers are improving learning outcomes in 31 rural schools in Mongolia
  • Spurred by a World Bank-supported project, a National Parent-Teacher Association was created in 2018, aiming to include parents in school decisions and improve education quality

In schools across Mongolia, whatever happens in the classroom is the sole responsibility of the school staff, and parents rarely get involved. But this is starting to change. Recently established Parent-Teacher Associations (PTA) are making clear the benefits of closer collaboration in schools, thus helping to change that culture.

The first PTAs in Mongolia were created in 2016, as part of the World Bank-financed Transparency and Accountability in Mongolian Education (TAME) Project . It focused on 31 rural schools covering 20 soums (rural districts) and 8 remote provinces in Western and Central Mongolia.

“The ultimate goal of PTAs is to improve children’s learning and education quality through social accountability mechanisms,” explained Kh. Naranjargal, Head of Globe International Center NGO, which implemented the project. “We focused on fostering closer relations between parents and teachers because they have critical influence on children’s development,” she added.

Over 1,200 parents and teachers in those schools have been trained on various social accountability tools over the course of four years. School budget monitoring, procurement and better understanding of their children’s learning environments are some of the most popular topics among parents and teachers.

“Before, we thought that parents need to take care of children’s life outside school. What happened at school concerned the school director and its administration,” said Kh. Saranchimeg, a parent and coordinator of the Murun soum PTA, in Khuvsgul province.

"The stereotypes we had about dormitory students being unable to succeed were shattered. We are very encouraged to see real improvements in children’s learning and education."
D. Badel
a parent and member of the Buyant soum PTA, in Bayan-Ulgii province

In Gurvan-Erdene school in Murun soum, parents, teachers and students get regular updates on school expenditures. The Transparent Budget Boards pilot will be implemented in all of Khuvsgul province. “Parents provide useful feedback and suggestions on matters such as how to reallocate any unused funds and how to make better planning in the future. They are always willing to make an extra step for their children,” says N.Dalaijargal, an Education budget specialist in the province.

While fostering smooth collaboration between all parties did not come easily, requiring repeated meetings and school visits, PTAs are already making a difference in students’ learning outcomes.

In remote Bayan-Ulgii province, children living in school dormitories away from home historically achieved lower grades compared with their classmates who lived at home. During a PTA meeting, parents and teachers agreed to address the issue by making a small change.

For one hour each week, all teachers would tutor those students living in dorms and help them catch up with their peers. “It was a learning experience for teachers themselves, some of whom had never entered school dorms before. Teachers started to pay more attention to the needs of these children who lived far from their homes,” noted T. Erdenekhuu, a teacher and board member of the Battsengel soum PTA, in Arkhangai province.

As a result, English language skills improved considerably among high school students, while primary education children improved their reading and writing skills. For the first time ever in that school, a dorm student won in a national competition.

“The stereotypes we had about dormitory students being unable to succeed were shattered. We are very encouraged to see real improvements in children’s learning and education,” said D. Badel, a parent and member of the Buyant soum PTA, in Bayan-Ulgii province.

In October of 2018, a national PTA was established, with the first National PTA Forum showcasing many of the successes local PTAs have had so far. A 2019-2021 Strategic Plan was approved and will focus on continued improvements to learning outcomes and building the capacity of PTA members.

PTAs have proven their potential to affect change in Mongolian schools, but this is only the beginning. “The National PTA is a united, strong voice of parents pushing for greater accountability in the education sector. Parents and teachers work together to make real improvements on practical matters such as textbook quality and distribution, and efficient budget allocations. We aim to empower parents to become influential stakeholders in education policy-making and implementation to achieve quality inclusive education for all children in Mongolia,” says D.Tungalag, coordinator of “All for Education!” National Civil Society Coalition of Mongolia, partner of TAME project.