Between 2007 and 2013, the Rural Education and Development (READ) Project made learning materials available in rural Mongolia by establishing 3,560 classroom libraries in all 383 rural primary schools. Each school received over 160 books, benefiting a total of 130,000 students. 4,144 rural primary teachers and 383 school directors were trained. A local professional development network has been set up consisting of 95 core schools and 178 mentor teachers.
In 2006, the Government of Mongolia and the education sector were recovering from the fall of communism and the subsequent departure of Soviet support. The government was working hard to protect public spending on education and to recover from a drop in enrollments that occurred in the mid-1990s.
Education remained a high priority within the government’s overall action plan, which supported strengthening basic education in Mongolia by raising the capacity of education administrators and teachers and by fostering competition.
The government knew that low levels of educational attainment were key determinants of poverty and that poverty could be a key factor that limited access to and quality of schooling. Therefore, investment in education was important because improvements in the sector could break the intergenerational transmission of poverty and were consistent with Mongolia’s commitment to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015.
The project assisted Mongolia in enhancing the quality of education in rural primary schools, grades 1-5, by improving students' access to, and use of, quality learning materials and improving teachers' skills through the promotion of professional networks.
This has been achieved specifically through:
The establishment of classroom libraries in rural schools and selected kindergartens, dorms and non-formal education centers;
The improvement in learning conditions in rural schools through the provision of classroom furniture for grade 1 students and bookshelves for grade 1-5 classrooms;
The development and implementation of a training program to promote improved teaching strategies among teachers, methodologists in early childhood development, school principals and managers, and librarians;
The promotion of reading activities for families and children while at home and at school.
The introduction of classroom libraries with an appropriate, child-friendly approach to teacher training made teachers, students and parents more engaged in the education process.
Before we couldn't get up and move around the class. Class wasn't so fun. Now we move freely and discuss back and forth. We work together on assignments. I like it this way.
a 3rd grader at the Dadal County primary school
From 2007 to 2013:
3,560 classroom libraries were established in grades 1-5 in all 383 rural primary schools in Mongolia.
Each school received over 160 books, benefiting a total of 130,000 students.
4,144 rural primary teachers and 383 school directors were trained.
A local professional development network has been set up consisting of 95 core schools and 178 mentor teachers.
200 new titles of children’s books were made available on the local market, either written by local authors or translated from international publishers.
200,000 “small books” were written and illustrated by students, allowing students to use imagination freely to recount real-life stories or develop new stories to be read by others.
10,000 “big books” were made and used in classrooms. These books are produced by the school and include stories from the library books but modified to encourage students’ participation and stimulate curiosity and imagination.
2,000 students received laptops connected to servers with the improved Mongolian adapted version of ICDL (International Children’s Digital Library) software installed.
All the classrooms covered by the project increased students’ classroom reading time per week by 100%.
125 computers were delivered to 10 schools for their digital libraries.
Teachers also had more opportunities to meet with and observe instruction of teachers from other schools.
Students who never liked to read now sit in the library all day. They have now developed a habit of reading books!
a teacher at the Murun county primary school
International Children’s Digital Library (ICDL) worked very well with the project, incorporating 237 Mongolian books for free access through the online library. Several successful activities were carried out with ICDL’s direct support, including the setup of a local version of ICDL at two rural schools that were not on the internet and developing a Mongolian version of the ICDL for internet access that is available at http://www.read.mn/.
In addition, ICDL also provided several training workshops on how to use the Library to support literacy in Mongolia.
The READ project has become the cornerstone of basic education in Mongolia. The government and the Bank are preparing a new project, which will build on the success of READ and expand the teacher training, provide small grants to schools to lengthen the school day, and include an Early Grade Reading Assessment and an Early Grade Mathematics Assessment.
The innovative design and subsequent success of the project also inspired other countries to model their primary education projects after it. IDA is supporting a project in Papua New Guinea that is modeled after READ, called READ PNG in response to government demand.
“Before we couldn't get up and move around the class. Class wasn't so fun,” says Jalamjav, a 3rd grader at the Dadal County primary school. “Now we move freely and discuss back and forth. We work together on assignments. I like it this way.”
N. Enkhpurev, a teacher at the Murun county primary school, says books have fostered a love for reading among her students. “Students who never liked to read now sit in the library all day,” she says. “They have now developed a habit of reading books!”