As part of her fellowship with the Central Asia and Caucasus Research Training Initiative (CARTI), Mongolkhatan Gunsen from the Educational Research Institute, an agency of the Ministry of Education in Mongolia, is spending the spring semester working with faculty in the early childhood education program at New Mexico State University.
The fellowship program, through the Open Society Foundation, pairs scholars in the social sciences and humanities in the region of post-Soviet countries of South Caucasus and Central Asia, Afghanistan and Mongolia with international scholars who provide guidance and facilitate discussion and access to resources necessary for the succesful development of a research project.
Candace Kaye, graduate faculty in the NMSU College of Education, has been working with Gunsen as her assigned CARTI International Mentor while she pursues her research in gender equity in early childhood education, as well as works to change the model for early childhood education in Mongolia in her position in the Educational Research Institute.
“Mongolkhatan is working to change the educational model in Mongolia to a student-centered philosophy, which includes gender equity,” Kaye said. “Our lab program at NMSU is an important model for her to observe. She will see a student-centered approach while visiting the lab classrooms in the School for Young Children in Myrna’s Children’s Village.”
Kaye and Gunsen met in 2010 while Kaye was serving as a Teaching and Research Fulbright Scholar at Mongolia State University of Education’s College of Preschool Education. Kaye has returned two more times to work with Gunsen to develop workshops for early childhood teachers in Mongolia and conduct research.
In addition to observation at the NMSU lab school, Gunsen’s visit includes time for her and Kaye to work on their research, as well as the opportunity for Gunsen to meet with other professionals in early childhood education and attend courses on assessment and evaluation that Kaye is teaching this semester. They will work together to publish a comparative paper that will include Gunsen’s recommendations for Mongolian early education. Gunsen’s visit also includes intensive language instruction through NMSU’s Center for English Language Programs, as she is learning English as her third language.
“Gender equity is not always practiced in Mongolia, there is a need for this research and a need for teachers to be supported,” Gunsen said.
Kaye said Gunsen’s work is a lot like planting a seed, “it will need nourishment and tending and change will not be quick, but we want to plant that seed.”