DEVELOPING THE MONGOLIA EDUCATION SECTOR STRATEGY 2000-2005:REFLECTIONS OF A CONSULTANT FOR THE ASIAN DEVELOPMENT BANK
John C. Weidman, University of Pittsburgh
This paper presents reflections on the author's work as an international consultant forthe Asian Development Bank technical assistance (TA) project that developed theMongolia Education Sector Strategy 2000-2005. It illustrates the use of a sector-wideapproach to building a strategy for obtaining donor funding by laying out prioritiesacross the education sector in Mongolia, showing how this particular project funded bythe Asian Development Bank (ADB) was structured to incorporate broad-basedparticipation of major donors and other stakeholders in the country. The paper includesa description of the Mongolian context and a framework for sector-wide approaches toeducational assistance with examples drawn from the 1999 Mongolia education sectorstrategy study. It concludes with an assessment of strengths and weaknesses of thisparticular sector-wide approach based on the author's Mongolian experience.
The Mongolian Context
Mongolia is a landlocked country of 2.65 million inhabitants living in an area of 1.565million square kilometers. The country is sandwiched between Russia and China, eachof which also has a Mongolian population (0.5 and 3.5 million, respectively). Thirty-fourpercent of the population is under the age of 14. About 25 percent of the populationresides in the capital city, Ulaanbaatar, 25 percent resides in other urban areas, and mostof the remainder is nomadic. Estimated 1999 per capita gross domestic product (GDP:purchasing power parity) was $2,320 distributed as follows: 33 percent agriculture, 24percent industry, and 43 percent services. Real GDP growth was about 3.5 percent in1999. Forty percent of the population was living below the official poverty level (CIAWorld Factbook 2000).
The People's Government of Mongolia was declared in 1921 under a single-partygovernment that held power until 1990. The Mongolian People's Republic wasestablished in 1924 as the world's second communist country. Mongolia maintained
close political and economic ties with the USSR, but was never one of its constituentrepublics. At the peak of this relationship, almost a third of Mongolia's GDP wasprovided by the Soviet Union. This included significant support (e.g. books, equipment,training of academics and researchers) for Mongolian education. Following the fall ofthe Soviet Union in 1989, the external financial support coming from the Council forMutual Economic Cooperation (CMEC) evaporated. A new, political structure wasestablished with the passage of a constitution in 1992 to guide the country's transition toa democratic government and a market rather than a command economy (Weidman andBat-Erdene, 2002).