MANILA, PHILIPPINES - ADB will help improve access to and the quality of education services for children and increase skills training opportunities for youth and adults in Mongolia by preparing a Third Education Sector Development Program, through a technical assistance (TA) grant approved for US$500,000.
The TA is financed by the Japan Special Fund, from the Government of Japan.
Building on the achievements of the Education Sector Development Program (ESDP) and the ongoing Second Education Development Project (SEDP), the TA will prepare a project that will address priority needs in basic education and review the scope for consolidating the technical education and vocational training system.
The TA will also draft an Education Sector Strategy for 2006-2010, as well as strategies to align organizational procedures, human resource management systems, and financial and human resource requirements with the new sector strategy.
A plan for further rehabilitation of school facilities will also be prepared, as well as strategies to establish a flexible, demand-driven technical education and vocational training system.
The priority needs identified in these plans and strategies will be incorporated in the loan project proposal to be prepared by the TA.
"The Government's continued commitment and extensive external assistance has led to significant progress in restructuring Mongolia's education sector," says Wolfgang Kubitzki, an ADB Education Specialist.
"However, further actions and reforms are urgently needed to address geographical inequities in learning environments and subsectors other than basic education."
Since termination of financial and technical support from the former Soviet Union in 1991, the quality of and access to the education services in Mongolia has deteriorated.
Updating of education content is delayed, education authorities have limited capacities, the high demand for school facilities is unmet and maintenance is insufficient, good instructional materials are lacking, and budget allocations among the subsectors are uneven.
Under the ESDP, 181 schools were successfully restructured, improving the efficiency of education delivery and stabilizing education finance, while about 66 schools and kindergartens are being rehabilitated under the ongoing SEDP.
A more serious problem, however, is the widening gap in the learning environments between urban and rural areas, which contributes to large-scale internal migration seen as the biggest obstacle to reducing poverty.
"Many rural parents see education as an investment in bettering the life of their children and decide to move to urban areas for quality schooling," says Mr. Kubitzki.
"However, schools in urban areas are already too crowded and these migrants often join the urban poor."
Technical education and vocational training has also been one of the most neglected areas of education. The demand for skilled labor is growing, particularly in urban areas, but no mechanism offers skills training for youths and adults responding to the demand.
Financial constraints further exacerbate these problems. Despite the Government having prioritized education in national development, public expenditure on the sector, averaging about 20% of total Government expenditures, has reached a ceiling.
The Government will contribute $125,000 equivalent toward the TA's total cost of $625,000. The Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science is the executing agency for the TA, which will be carried out over about five months.