Academic journal article School Community Journal

Study on Parental Involvement Preparation at a Preservice Institution in Mongolia

Academic journal article School Community Journal

Study on Parental Involvement Preparation at a Preservice Institution in Mongolia

Article excerpt

Introduction

Background

The contemporary education system of Mongolia was established in 1921 with a primary school consisting of just two teachers and 40 students (Shagdar & Batsaihan, 2010). However, monastic schools based on Tibetan Buddhism, which started in the second half of the 16th century, still existed in the early 20th century (Steiner-Khamsi & Stolpe, 2006). During this time, parents themselves were able to decide where to send their children, whether to the contemporary model school or to monastic schools. Parental involvement in children's learning and development, therefore, is not a new topic in Mongolia.

Parental involvement in the contemporary education of Mongolia can be divided into the following two eras: (1) the socialist era (up to 1990); and (2) the post-socialist era (from 1990 to the present). During the socialist era, education and social policies took priority because these areas were considered the engine of development (Steiner-Khamsi & Stolpe, 2006). Teachers were pleased that their profession brought them a good reputation in the society and that it paid well. The teacher was expected to be " the one who knows" (SteinerKhamsi & Stolpe, 2006), and teachers were well respected. Overall, during this period parental involvement was systematically managed by the People's Revolutionary Party policies, and teachers worked in close collaboration with parents on children's learning and development.

The new system of market economy since the 1990s brought many changes in social institutions. State-owned enterprises were closed, and the sudden withdrawal of social services intensified. As a result of the economic shock, there were job losses in many sectors. Beyond these sudden changes, there has also been an increase in domestic violence, alcohol abuse, insecurity, and family breakups due to migration to seek work (Asian Development Bank [ADB], 2005). Now family patterns differ greatly from the past with the social and economic phenomena of divorce, with single parents, with lengthened work hours, with poverty, and with other changes that are impacting family patterns.

Public attitudes towards the teaching profession have also changed. Since the dramatic changes of 1990, teachers' status has dropped, and public shaming and humiliation of teachers has been observed due to differences in institutional technology resources available in urban areas compared to the rest of Mongolia (Steiner-Khamsi & Stolpe, 2006). Less promising general education graduates are those who now decide to be teachers. Low salary seems to be one of the main demotivating factors for the teaching profession. Since 1990, secondary school teachers nationwide have gone on strike a few times because of their low salaries. Unlike the socialist era, the collaboration between teacher and parent is no longer assured. However, schools and teachers both acknowledge the importance of parental involvement, and parental involvement still exists to certain degrees.

To successfully teach children, teacher-parent collaboration is very important. Prospective teachers should understand that educating children is a collaborative effort, and the collaboration of teachers, parents, and all other professionals working with children results in the successful education of children (Flanigan, 2007). In accordance with the new education system adoption in 2008 (see Table 1), a Curriculum Framework Document was developed by the three primary education teacher-training institutions in Mongolia. The new national curriculum for the 12-year system placed new demands on teachers' skills, competencies, and knowledge, with which the previous preservice teacher training was ill-equipped to cope (UNESCO-IBE, 2010).

Family background can be an important factor influencing the level of parental involvement in their child's learning. Like in other countries, often preservice teachers' backgrounds are different from very poor families, and new teachers may have little knowledge of the challenges disadvantaged parents face when they try to get involved in their children's education (Ratcliff & Hunt, 2009). …

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