ADB to grant USD 3 million for improving school dormitories

2015-11-27 19:07:41

Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/ The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a grant of USD 3 million for a pilot project to make the dilapidated school dormitories of Mongolia’s poor and sparsely populated western region fit for students. 

The grant is from the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction, financed by the Government of Japan and administered by ADB.

“Chronically low levels of capital investment have left school dormitories, built during the 1970s and 1980s, run down and lacking safe drinking water, adequate sanitation and heating, and protection from rain and wind,” said Asako Maruyama, an ADB Education Specialist. “By piloting models to improve the buildings and services offered by dormitories, this project will promote equal access to quality education, particularly for children from herder families.”

The western region is poor—32.5% of the population in 2012 compared to the national average of 27.4%, with nomadic herders accounting for almost 42% of poor households. Mongolia’s school dormitory system was developed to ensure wider access to education, particularly for students from herder families. 

Besides dilapidated structures, dormitories have inadequate staffing to look after  students’ study, reading, or extracurricular activities. In addition, the dormitory teachers and guards who stay with students at night lack the skills needed to work and communicate with children. Parents in rural remote areas are often unwilling to send young children to schools because of the unfavorable school dormitory environment. 

The project will improve the school dormitory environment in three aimags (districts) of the western region—Govi-Altai, Uvs, and Zavkhan—by incorporating elements responsive to gender, age, and special needs in the water, sanitation and hygiene facility design. Capacity building for dormitory staff, teachers, and school management will be provided, as well as a financing policy to upgrade the school dormitory system.  

Of Mongolia’s five regions, the western region has the largest number of students staying in dormitories and 86% of these students are from herder families. In 2012, the region had a primary completion rate of 86.1%, the lowest in Mongolia and well below the national average of 94.5%. Children in the region tend to start school later than the official school age of 6.  A 2008 study found that students staying in dormitories have lower academic performances.

The project will draw on good practices in boarding school management in Japan and elsewhere to develop comprehensive standards and a national strategy to improve the school dormitory environment. A built-in evaluation system will assess the impacts of an improved school dormitory physical environment and services on student learning. 

In Mongolia, ADB approved assistance totaling $218.8 million in 2014, including 4 sovereign loans of $168.5 million; nonsovereign loans of $40 million; and 15 technical assistance grants totaling $10.31 million.

ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members – 48 from the region. In 2014, ADB assistance totaled $22.9 billion, including cofinancing of $9.2 billion, ADB reports.