WASHINGTON DC, May 23, 2006 – The World Bank’s Board (International Development Association) has approved an investment grant of US$ 4.0 million for the Rural Education and Development (READ) Project.
The READ project aims to improve the quality of primary education in rural areas by improving students' access and use of quality learning materials and improving teachers' skills through professional development of teachers in all soum and bagh schools. It will also help build the policy, monitoring and evaluation capacity of MECS in full support of the implementation of the pending Master Plan.
Traditionally Mongolians have a strong tradition of reading, but due to the crisis during the transition period this tradition has been lost among the population, especially the younger generation. Most school-aged children have access to schools in rural area of Mongolia. “But there are no high quality reading materials in the local language and very little access to the few existing ones for childrenin rural areas.” said by many local school teachers. These are main reasons why the quality of education in rural primary schools is very poor.
The World Bank supports the project with a US 4 million dollar grant. "We are happy that we could assist social sector in Mongolia, namely rural primary education, which is still very vulnerable issue in this country. The project provides a great opportunity to support children in the most rural schools." said Saha D. Meyanathan, World Bank Country Resident Representative. The project is one of three grant projects supported by the World Bank to be effective before June 31 2006.
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 classrooms 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's books will be selected by international and local publishers and copies of each book will be supplied to all soums and bagh 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 (http://www.childrenslibrary.org). 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.
The Mongolian Embassy in Washington invited their staff and members of the Mongolian community in Washington DC to the embassy on Thursday, June 15, to hear more about the READ project from World Bank staff. The Embassy welcomed the project and expressed their support for the project, which targets important social challenge of Mongolia. There was also a presentation from Dr. Allison Druin, Professor at the University of Maryland, who shared the International Children's Digital Library (http://www.childrenslibrary.org), whose team is working with the Government of Mongolia on bringing digital libraries to rural schools, under the support of the grant.
The project will be implemented by a Project Management Unit, established under the coordination of Ministry of Education, Science and Culture (MECS), which is the main implementing institution of the project. Duration of the project is 5 years from August 2006 until February 2012.