WASHINGTON DC, March 6, 2012 – The World Bank today announced the signing of a grant of US$ 10 million to support early childhood education in Mongolia. The grant, funded by the Global Partnership for Education, will help Mongolia provide access to early childhood education for children in disadvantaged communities.
“Improving access to early childhood education is critical to reducing poverty in Mongolia,” said Klaus Rohland, World Bank Country Director for China and Mongolia. “This initiative will help children develop the cognitive and social skills needed to succeed throughout their education and throughout their lives.”
The project will build 37 kindergartens in urban and peri-urban areas throughout the country and create alternative pre-school classes in mobile ger-kindergartens that follow herders in the summer. It will also improve teaching and learning environments by supplying learning materials, furniture, equipment, and toys, and undertake monitoring and evaluation.
“Every year, about 4,000 additional children will be able to attend kindergarten and 1,500 additional children will participate in the programs organized by mobile ger-kindergartens” said Minister Y. Otgonbayar, Minister of Education, Culture and Science.
International evidence has shown that investing in early childhood education yields the highest economic returns because early learning and the formation of good habits and social skills are far more productive than later, remedial education and training. The internal rates of return of rigorously evaluated early childhood education programs range from 7 percent to 18 percent, which are higher than the rates of return to financial capital.
“Investments in early childhood education are a highly cost-effective strategy to break the inter-generational transmission of poverty and improve productivity in the long run,” said Prateek Tandon, World Bank Economist and Task Team Leader for the project.
The project was conceived in response to Mongolia’s introduction in 2008 of a 12-year education cycle, expanding its original 10-year cycle to conform to international norms. The expansion has enabled the admission of students at the age of 6 to the first grade. This transition required the government to ensure that every 5-year-old child is ready for school by enrolling them in kindergarten.