Transition threatening higher education


With many young people searching for options to study abroad, one might come to think, “What is so wrong with studying here in Mongolia?”
Taking aside the incentive of travel, there are plenty of reasons foreign universities attract students. Those studying here are not completely satisfied with the educational reform that the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science’s (MECS) policymakers have brought about.
The new policy seems to be about adopting a liberal arts education. The unorganized manner in which it is being managed reminds me of a quote from an article by Dorjgotov on baabar.mn, “Mongolia has shown that they can’t copy, let alone innovate.”
This reform doesn’t support anyone but the authorities. It puts teachers under pressure, and students under even more, because of the students’ lack of fundamental knowledge.
The educational reform has put a strain on teachers by making cuts to the essential relationship between student and teacher. Teachers at National University of Mongolia and Mongolian University of Science and Technology are required to fulfill 26 credits, or hours a week, under the new system. Sixteen hours are supposed to be dedicated for teaching each semester, five for scientific work, and five for extracurricular activities such as organizing competitions and promoting their department. Teachers face salary reductions if these guidelines are not met.
The teachers are no longer able to put the amount of time they want into the main core of education: a university’s students. “I am trying as much as I can, but I can’t do as much as I wish because there are so many things to do,” a geology teacher at MUST said.
Teachers don’t have enough time. “I feel like I’m in an English speaking country. The teachers are not translating the lectures and they sometimes just butcher the whole thing, trying to lecture by translating an English lecture on the spot,” a student at NUM said. “I know that they want us to learn the English terminology, but we first need the lecture to be in Mongolian to understand it,” he added.
Adding insult to injury, even with increased hours and tuition increases, teachers’ salaries remain the same.
The high school education curriculum lacks correlation with what’s required for a university education. “The kids coming from high schools are now unable to talk about literature, history, languages, physics, and what not. How am I supposed to teach a person literature when they have no basic knowledge?” asked a Russian language teacher at NUM.
One NUM student said that she realized her high school education was terrible. “During a lecture, my college physics teacher sometimes skips a topic because ‘we must have already learned this in high school’, but I haven’t and neither have so many of us. In the end, I don’t understand those concepts because my foundation is not good enough for this school,” she said.
Not only does a the high school curriculum leave students ill prepared, but the university freshman curriculum leaves students struggling in their sophomore year. “My applied mathematics teacher was asking how we could be in that class when we hadn’t learned linear algebra yet. I don’t know,” wondered another student. His teacher had come to NUM from a foreign country two months prior. “The teacher is not fully aware of the system and tells us to complain about this system to the school board,” he added.
How do we expect to produce world-renown researchers with this confusing education system that even the teachers don’t understand? How, when the education provided in high schools isn’t enough, and when the courses don’t correlate in between years?
The new reforms and changes to hours have been made by authorities who were appointed by the MECS. Some of the people appointed do not have a background in education but have gone unchecked in making massive changes to the system.
Many misunderstandings have been cleared up this year and the system is improving, some teachers said.
According to students, this year is better because they got assigned homeroom teachers. The previous year, they wandered their campuses with no one to help them. The freshmen this year didn’t encounter room mishaps, unlike their upper classmen.
The rise in tuition has brought students some teachers with foreign experience. Things are improving, but how long is actually needed, and how many are supposed to be sacrificed in the name of seeing this transition through ? When will we learn to develop on our own and improve more rapidly?
Mongolia has been unable to take care of her youth and education for quite some time now, and right when the education system was becoming more efficient, the MECS decided to change the system and adopt a whole new one. Change is easy, but a change for the better is difficult.
Education policymakers need a reality check. Stop insisting on so much from the teachers. Instead, hire more teachers to divide the work with the money earned from tuition increases. Focus on the students when your objective is to produce powerful human capital. Manage the correlation between high school and university education.
Mostly, prepare. Study and see if a theory can be applied in real life, and then put it to the test.

Short URL: http://ubpost.mongolnews.mn/?p=16630

Posted by on Oct 27 2015. Filed under Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

3 Comments for “Transition threatening higher education”

  1. First pay a descent salaries to the teachers. Also provide proper training to the teachers so that they upgrade their skills and knowledge. Learning is a continuous process, but first pay proper wages.

  2. “During a lecture, my college physics teacher sometimes skips a topic because ‘we must have already learned this in high school”

    Then why doesn’t this student get with other students and say SOMETHING to the administration or the professor. Speak up. It is the students education and their responsibility to learn. The teachers responsibility is to create a learning environment and present the information in a guided way to facilitate learning.

  3. “The teachers are not translating the lectures and they sometimes just butcher the whole thing, trying to lecture by translating an English lecture on the spot”

    So that means they are not even making their own lectures, but just translating from others? That is called theft. I teach at a university and firmly believe the problem is not with the regulations, but with the ability for teachers to actually teach good material.

    I found curriculum yesterday from NUM that teaches political economy in an ECONOMICS class. The book was from 1998. Political economy is taught firmly in the political science space now, and has been for a long time.

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