Quality of Education in Rural Schools to Improve

March 15, 2006

ULAANBAATAR, March 10 and 14, 2006 - The World Bank (International Development Association) and the Mongolian Ministry of Finance have concluded negotiations on a grant agreement for the Rural Education and Development (READ) Project that will be aimed at reducing the gap between rural and urban schools. The Project will enhance the quality of education in rural primary schools by improving the quality of learning materials and by developing teachers’ skills through professional networks.

Education sector is one of Mongolia’s development priorities, as outlined in the National Development Strategy. The Mongolian education sector is recovering from a crisis during the transition period in the early ‘90s when the country shifted to a new social and economic system. Although most school-aged children have access to schools, children in rural schools have much less access to reading materials, and the quality of education in rural primary schools is very poor.

"Mongolia is a highly literate nation. Before the 1990s, reading was a popular habit for all Mongolians including children. But this pastime has been lost during the transition period, especially due to the lack of a good quality reading materials for children” was the view of one children’s author during the preparation stage of the project,B. Mishigjav , State secretary, Ministry of Education, Science and Culture and a member of working group of the Government for the negotiation of the project stated.” By implementing the READ project will support the intellectual development of children, who is our future generation, and will improve quality of primary education in rural area in Mongolia”

The World Bank will support the project through the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture (MECS), which is a main implementing institution of the project, with a US 4 million dollar grant.   The project is one of four grant projects supported by the World Bank to be effective in 2006. "This is a great opportunity to support children in the most rural schools to have important reading materials for students and help teachers strengthen their teaching of reading and writing. We hope the project will also strengthen the local publishing industry and promote the respect for author and illustrator rights," said Saha D. Meyanathan, World Bank Country Resident Representative.

The project has three components. The first component of the project is to focus on supply of books available to students in grades 1-5 and supporting teachers and their school networks around the use of books. The second component addresses the strengthening of the government’s capacity to monitor student learning through national and international assessments. A third component will address financial and technical support for the management of the project and evaluation of the implementation.

Within the project children books both by international and local authors will be selected for each of the 1-5 primary grades and copies of each book will be supplied to all soums and baghs schools outside of aimag centers to create classroom libraries. The project will also support books being available in a digital format by working with the international children’s digital library (    Selected non formal education centers, kindergartens and dorms will also be supplied with reading materials.

Professional development will be also provided to grade 1-5 teachers, school managers, directors and librarians through school cluster training in all soums and baghs. The training will focus on the use of books in the classroom and the connections between reading and writing. A public outreach campaign will encourage parents’ involvement in children’s education, in particular, the shared experience of reading.

Any projects the Bank finances are conceived and supervised according to a well-documented project cycle. According to the project cycle READ project will be presented to the World Bank's Board of Executive Directors for approval on May 23, which is next stage of the cycle after the negotiation. The project‘s effectiveness is expected at the end of this summer.

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