Mongolia is a landlocked country nestled between Russia and China. It has a population just over 2.7 million, with 1 million living in urban areas and the rest scattered over 1.6 million square kilometers of rural landscape.
The Mongolian population is relatively young, with almost 40 per cent under 19 years, and 13 per cent under six years. Nationwide, 42 per cent of children live in poverty and 21 per cent suffer from chronic malnutrition.
Many children in Mongolia still face barriers in going to school because of poverty and migration, as well as gaps in the quality and access to education. School drop-out rates remain high in rural areas because of the need for all household members to contribute to the household income and to share chores, as well as family’s inability to cover school supply costs.
UNICEF Child-Friendly Schools are helping change this situation for children in Mongolia.
Mongolia has a strong nomadic pastoral culture, dating back hundreds of years. Up to 20 per cent of the population is engaged in moving seasonal with the herds they look after. This mobile lifestyle of many families poses a challenge for young children to access quality education.
UNICEF is helping children from nomadic families, like four year old Usukhbayar, get the opportunity to go to school through establishing mobile kindergartens in felt tents known as a ‘ger’.
These easily assembled tents act as a traveling classroom, working with the nomadic nature of the people living in Mongolia and working from the idea that if the children can’t come to the school, take the school to the students.
Usukhbayar had never attended school until a ‘ger kindergarten’ began operating in their bagh (village) last summer.
Before starting school, Usukhbayar was a shy and non-talkative child who would hide behind his parents when guests came to visit. Since going his ‘ger’ kindergarten, however, he is now much more confident and assertive. Usukhbayar has learned how to greet people and to express himself well, and is learning how to write, read and develop good hygiene practices, such as cleaning his teeth, hands, and face.
Can your school help more children like Usukhbayar? Register to participate in UNICEF Day for Children today.