Minister L.Gantumur reviews education reform progress

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Unlike other sectors, the education sector launches its work in fall and finishes in late spring. The academic year of 2015 to 2016 is coming to a close. The Minister of Education, Culture and Science, L.Gantumur, gave an interview evaluating projects completed in the education sector during this period, particularly in the higher education sector.

Students, teachers and professors are busy with final exams and reports on their work. Can you also evaluate what you’ve accomplished in the academic year of 2015 to 2016?

Mongolians are people who constantly look to the future ahead and dedicate everything to our children. Education is the key to a brighter future. With the aim to guarantee Mongolia’s future with quality education, I have completed quite a lot of work in this field.

Now that I think about it, my passion to develop my country was very weak and abstract when I had just returned from studying in Japan. It might havebeen because I hadn’t shaken off the culture shock from such a highly developed country. After seven to eight years working in Parliament, my political motive became a vision for a highly educated Mongolian society. I realized that the economy doesn’t go far with just financial support and that we must start developing a knowledge economy from now on. This way, educated people will become Mongolia’s resource and wealth. I began implementing this policy with big hopes after becoming the Minister of Education, Culture and Science. Looking over the reform work for which I strived, I believe that I’m successful.

Many development projects are underway for elementary, secondary and higher education. Can you briefly talk about the most important goals and projects?

Firstly, our sector focuses on decentralizing power in this sector. The education sector had a strict hierarchical control system where all power is centralized at the ministry. The ministry approved curriculums and every other institution followed it. Reform of workplace relation structures was considered the best solution. Truthfully, only teachers and students are left in the classroom when the bell rings, not ministers or directors. That’s where everything happens. Power is not having the ministry manage but having teachers work hard to educate students and develop them into proper individuals.

The second target is to develop every child. All of them have their own unique learning methods. Yet, students in the same class are taught in the same way and categorized into good and bad grades. Launching a systematic reform for developing each child was required to change this. Basically, our target became to nurture future Mongolians into people capable of making right decisions confidently.

Thirdly, we needed to increase schools and kindergartens to provide a good learning environment for children and young people. As the population increases, people’s needs increase. The state should always remember this. Personally, I think I’ve worked well by keeping this fact in mind.


 

the best way to help your child is by spending as much time as possible with them. Secondly, don’t pressure or stress your child. If you constantly pressure them, they will be easily influenced by others in the future.


 

What should parents focus on for raising their children to become an educated and creative individual?

Two things are essential for raising creative people. How do you want your child to be when they turn 18? Spend at least 10 days imagining how your child would carry themselves in public, what they will be capable of and how many books they would’ve read. The best way to help your child is by spending as much time as possible with them. Secondly, don’t pressure or stress your child. If you constantly pressure them, they will be easily influenced by others in the future.

Many opportunities are opening for Mongolian students. More and more children are getting scholarships and a new student loan was introduced. In general, is the number of Mongolian students going abroad to study increasing? How many students are studying in world’s prestigious universities?

That’s one of the best works we’ve accomplished. In accordance with the President’s order and government’s resolution, Mongolian students, who passed an exam taken according to Resolution No.271 of the Minister of Education, Culture and Science on providing scholarships to students, are sent to study in top universities of the world. Currently, 483 Mongolian students are studying in the most prestigious schools all over the world. This is a huge investment for Mongolians who have great intellectual potential and are able to quickly learn new things. There’s no other country in the world that has 10 percent of its total students enrolled in the best universities abroad. It’s a huge achievement. Mongolian young people have found their way to world renowned universities.

In 2013, 10 students passed the ministry’s exam, 114 students passed in 2014, and 165 students passed in 2015. The number is expected to increase every year. At this rate, we predict that around 200 students will pass the exam next year. Having 100 students study in the 100 top schools of the world is a large number for Mongolia’s small population.

In the past, students weren’t able to study abroad even with good grades due to financial reasons. Now, they can get student loans to pay for tuitions. What kinds of criteria must they pass to get a student loan?

The government opened more opportunities by approving the Creative Student program. The Good Student program and its regulations were approved by the government, enabling students to apply for student loans. The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, three commercial banks and accredited local universities and colleges signed a trilateral agreement and started giving student loans. The program supports competition among higher education institutions to improve education funding system. It aims to provide inclusive and equitable education, improve independency, responsibility and competitive skills of students, and boost their opportunities to study.

Student loans are issued under short and long terms. To apply for a long-term loan, freshmen are required to have scored more than 650 points in the national general examination, and sophomores, seniors and final-year student must have a GPA of 3.5 or above. The condition specifies students to  repay the loan with five percent interest within four years after their graduation. As for short-term loans, freshmen must have scored at least 400 points in the national general examination, and sophomores, seniors and final-year students are required to have a GPA of 2.5 or above.

Freshmen are also very interested in the 1,000 Engineer Project. How long will this project continue? Currently, how many students and teachers are studying in Japan?

The foremost important thing we need to do to become a producing country is to train skilled engineers. Japan trained capable engineers at foreign universities and based on their skills and knowledge, it was able to develop so well. We should also learn from good practices of others and not lose a single chance to advance forward. We co-started a project with the Japanese government to train engineers. It’s proceeding well. Students who have been accepted for the project can enroll in construction, environmental engineering, or architecture courses. They have to study two years in Mongolia and another year at technology universities of Japan’s Nagaoka, Kyushu, Nagoya, Toyohashi, Kyoto and Kitami. Ninety-seven students were selected from over 2,000 entrees in the academic year of 2015 to 2016. Students in the Kosen Program successfully passed their exam to study in Japan. A total of 92 students studied in Kosen during the 2015 to 2016 academic year.


 

The foremost important thing we need to do to become a producing country is to train skilled engineers. Japan trained capable engineers at foreign universities and based on their skills and knowledge, it was able to develop so well. We should also learn from good practices of others and not lose a single chance to advance forward.


 

Specifically, 50 Mongolian students finished their first year in Kosen College of Technology, 36 students finished their second year, and six students studied in the Kosen Direct Training Programs for electrical engineering, electronic, construction, and urban planning. It’s a historic milestone that Mongolians are able to study in engineering programs that meet international standards. I’m sure that many people would agree with me on this. Mongolians can win a lot from this. The biggest would be getting 1,000 skilled engineers and 400 professors specialized in modern engineering. These 400 professors can teach in any country after graduating. The project will continue for nine years and train 1,000 engineers.

Finally, can you share about investment for higher education? Lately, research laboratories and equipment have improved incredibly.

Libraries that meet modern standards have been built adjacent to the Mongolian National University of Education and Mongolian National University of Medical Sciences. Scholarships for students and teachers have increased as well. What other projects are underway?

The ministry provides financial assistance of 67.65 billion MNT to universities to improve university curriculum, research environment and infrastructure within the framework of higher education quality reform. Compared to 2009 to 2012, investment provided from 2013 to 2015 increased from 5.7 billion MNT to 67.1 billion MNT. For instance, 400 million MNT was spent to build a laboratory for conducting biochemical tests research on agricultural products.

Mongolia established its first two-storey eco complex facility at a university with the objective to enable students to efficiently spend their time both independently and with a group. The state and university spent 470,377,670 MNT to establish the complex. A modern e-library with more than 150,000 books was built with 3.2 billion MNT at the Mongolian National University of Medical Sciences. It has seats for 718 people.

The most recently accomplished work was the commissioning of a seven-storey library for the Mongolian National University of Education with a grant from Japan. The government also established an agreement with a construction company to build a teaching hospital.

Construction work for a new seven-storey building for the National University of Mongolia is underway. It is expected to be commissioned in August. It will be used for research and library purposes. A total of 13.5 billion MNT will be needed for constructing this building. Investments for research at universities have been increased with hope that Mongolian scholars’ dreams and ideas will be realized and made into products.

 

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