Open and distance learning in the Gobi Desert: non-formal education for nomadic women

Open and distance learning in the Gobi Desert: non-formal education for nomadic women

The first distance learning project for non-formal education in Mongolia: experiences and achievements

The use of open and distance learning for non-formal education is much less represented in the literature than for formal education. This paper provides a case study, grounded in practice, of the first open and distance learning project for non-formal education in Mongolia, a developing country undergoing rapid transition in the 1990s from a command to a market economy and from communism to a multi-party democracy. The paper outlines the project and its context, explains the rationale for it, and analyses its achievements, limitations and lessons. It also identifies the additional problems for ODE in a context of rapid economic transition.

The article concludes that:

  • the Gobi Women’s Project was the first major step towards establishing open and distance education in Mongolia and was effective in addressing the educational needs of a vulnerable sector of the population (rural and nomadic women)
  • while the project had its limitations it also achieved significant shifts in understanding and practice in relation to non- formal education and ODE
  • the project met new educational needs in an innovative way and achieved a great deal in a relatively short time, given the starting point and conditions
  • unlike many other non-formal education projects, the project has been influential in policy development

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