A wide range of issues and challenges related to children and their education were addressed last Sunday at the first National Conference for Parents in Mongolia.

The conference was organized by the Family, Child and Youth Agency in partnership with the Mongolian government, Ministry of Population Development and Social Protection, and with support from World Vision Mongolia.

Along with several hundred mothers and fathers, Acting Prime Minister J.Erdenebat and representatives from Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Sports, General Police Department, National Emergency Management Agency, Gal Golomt National Movement NGO, and Family Development and Education Support Fund attended the conference.

During his remarks, Acting Prime Minister J.Erdenebat thanked all participants, especially those who came from remote provinces, for coming to exchange views on parenting education, challenges faced by Mongolian families, and seek solutions.

He went on saying, “Family is the home of a nation and the root of the nation’s survival. In Mongolia where we follow the nomadic lifestyle, parents teach children respect, politeness, the importance of education, and traditional cultures. A family is the university of life and source to a humane society. The relationship with family influences children’s development as well as the national security and national social life.”

He reminded the importance of keeping track of family history and underlined that serious issues such as child development, parenting, youth employment, elderly care, gender inequality, and support for people living with disabilities should be first resolved within family first.

Guest speakers briefed about the current status of growth and development of Mongolian children, parent education in Mongolia, and related state policies. Then, they gave presentations on topics such as parent’s role and influence in children’s education during different stages of childhood, Mongolian traditional ways to educate children, common health problems children face at different stages of development, guidelines for protecting children during an emergency situation or disaster, and more.

A couple of parent representatives shared their opinion about parenting during the event.

‘Child development is more important than the economy’

B.Altantulkhuur, a mother from Selenge Province:

Lately, there has been so much media coverage of economic difficulties in the country and it’s always at the center of attention. The economy is important but we’re ignoring a much more important issue and disregarding it as if it’s a normal thing that should exist in the society. That issue is children’s education.

As a mother, I believe that we should pay special attention to children’s development and education, especially to teenagers’. I see so many bad news related to young people on media outlets nowadays.

For example, teenagers are getting involved in crimes. Some are becoming victims of targeted crimes. I assume this is related to the development of digital devices. Children spend so much time on Facebook using their smartphones and laptops. Parents aren’t able to always supervise what they do and who they befriend via the internet. Like so, there are so many issues we must discuss and teach our children. The national conference is significant for raising awareness and preventing such problems. I’m sure that many projects will be started after the conference.

‘Parents nowadays push their responsibilities to educational institutes’

Ya.Erdenetungalag, a mother from Khuvsgul Province:

I believe that there are three main environments where children nurture. The first is family, the second is school, and the third is the society. Schools, education agencies, and the society are taking various measures for child protection, development, and education. But I wonder how much time we, parents, are spending with our children and whether they are able to learn everything they’re supposed to from their primary environment – family. This issue exists in not only in rural areas but also in Ulaanbaatar.

One of the speakers at the conference noted that live communication among families is gradually decreasing. This is so wrong.

In general, children should neither be too spoilt nor put under excessive pressure. We should be trying to balance out everything like our parents did. I personally believe that is the best way to raise a child.

Moreover, parents push all their responsibilities and duties to educational institutes. Most of them have one or two children. Yet, using their work as an excuse, they hardly spend time with their children. We should focus on this matter and try to be closer to our children.

Every province has a different education system and social development policy. Our province runs “Talented Khuvsgul” project. Being smart isn’t just about studying well.

‘Parents need to be good listeners and advisors to their child’

S.Tungalagtamir, the Head of the Population Development Department at the Ministry of Population Development and Social Protection:

The National Conference for Parents is significant as it allows us to discuss challenges faced by families with direct involvement from parents and provide support to some degree. One of the key family problems is their relationship. For instance, parents need to listen to their children and converse with them more. During the conference, we discussed positive ways to educate children instead of corporal punishment.

Lately, an increasing number of teenagers are attempting suicide. This shows that parents need to have deeper conversations with their children and give them the advice they need. Especially teenagers are seeking advice from their peers rather than their parents. There’s a need for parents to become better listeners and advisors.

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