Adult Education

Higher education
Higher education in Mongolia came with the communist revolution in the early 20th century and was based on a Soviet model. Since its inception the higher education system has seen significant growth to this day. As of 2003 there were 178 colleges and universities, though only 48 of those were public. However, there were 98,031 students at the public universities compared to 31,197 private students, indicating the continued importance of publicly funded higher education in Mongolia. Under communist rule all higher education was provided free of charge. Since the early 1990s, fees have been introduced, though the government offers grants and scholarships. The quality of education in the privately owned institutions is usually perceived as inferior.

There are many universities in Mongolia. The most prominent one is the National University of Mongolia in Ulaanbaatar, which was founded in 1942 (as Choybalsan University) with three departments: education, medicine, and veterinary medicine. The faculty was Russian, as was the language of instruction. In 1983 the university's engineering institute and Russian-language teacher training institute became separate establishments, called the Polytechnic Institute and the Institute of Russian Language, respectively. The Polytechnic Institute, with 5,000 students, concentrated on engineering and mining. Mongolian State University, with about 4,000 students, taught pure science and mathematics, social science, economics, and philology. More than 90 percent of the faculty were Mongolian; teachers also came from the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, France, and Britain. Much instruction was in Russian, reflecting the lack of Mongol-language texts in advanced and specialized fields.

Besides Mongolian State University there were seven other institutions of higher learning: the Institute of Medicine, the Institute of Agriculture, the Institute of Economics, the State Pedagogical Institute, the Polytechnic Institute, the Institute of Russian Language, and the Institute of Physical Culture. In the summer, all students had a work semester, in which they helped with the harvest, formed "shock work" teams for construction projects, or went to work in the Soviet Union or another Com-econ country. In early 1989, the education authorities announced that third-year and fourth-year engineering students would be told which enterprise they would be assigned to after graduation, so that their training could be focused with practical ends in mind.

Research and scholarship
Scholars suffer from Mongolia's isolation from the world's knowledge society. Mongolian scholars tend to be dissatisfied with their access to information in general and some are still uncomfortable with online databases. In many cases university library resources are underdeveloped and not satisfactory to scholars. Furthermore, it may not be possible for scholars to subscribe to professional journals because of cost and language barriers. The most popular ways for scholars to find information is to borrow articles from colleagues, use a library copy, or get a copy from colleagues abroad. About 83% of scholars use the Internet for research, which is about the same percentage of English speakers. The increasing importance of the Internet in research and global academic exchanges has pushed more scholars to favor English over the language that used to dominate Mongolia's academia, Russian.

Non-formal distance education
The government through its Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science, and often in conjunction with NGOs and outside government organizations, has implemented non-formal distance education programs promoting basic skill development. About 100,000 of Mongolia's 1,200,000 adults are taking part in some form of distance education.

The program often uses radio communications to overcome the problem of distance. This is particularly suitable to nomads, since their mobile lifestyles are not conducive to landline communications. The focus of these distance education programs is on rural populations that need more skills than their urban counterparts. The radio classes are conducted using booklets sent to the participants and video instruction at learning centers. They are designed to help adults learn about topics that they might find useful in everyday life. Subjects such as nutrition, first aid, and hygiene are taught to help improve health. Classes ranging from wool production to cooking to saddle-making are taught as ways to help rural people improve skills and possibly generate income. Likewise, basic business classes on production, accounting, and marketing are taught to improve rural residents' financial situation. There are courses using classic fairy tales to teach literacy, and classes on math and current events. Non-formal education is one of the only ways for students who dropped out of school to attain a primary school equivalency education. From 2000 to 2004, 28,356 students earned this equivalency through the non-formal program.

Each of Mongolia's 21 aimags has its own Education and Culture Department which administers formal and non-formal education programs within its borders. Each aimag is responsible for developing the content of their programs and implementing them. For non-formal distance education, there are two country-wide programs: "The National Program of Non-Formal Education Development" and the "National Program for Distance Education." Pedagogical training for the instructors is taken care of by the Center for Non-formal Education, which is part of Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science (Mongolia). There is a National Education Inspection Service that monitors the programs, so it is not clear how much control the national-level of the Ministry of Education is compared to the aimag-level.

The non-formal distance education program makes use of "enlightenment centers," often in schools or government offices, to distribute educational materials.

Specific projects
Gobi Nomadic Women's Project

Funding and support sources
UNICEF program to help children who drop out from school
Government of Denmark (funded the Gobi Nomadic Women's Project)