Education Loans and Grants Account for 10-15 Percent of Mongolia’s Total DebtEconomy
Ulaanbaatar, March 15, 2023 /MONTSAME/. Local Education Group (LEG) High Level Consultation Meeting was held on March 14 in Ulaanbaatar.
At the meeting, the Government’s policy and short-term goals on the education and science sector were presented to the attendees and discussions were evolved around the topics such as cooperation opportunities and roles of the stakeholders. The meeting is significant in terms of establishing cooperation and partnership mechanism between the member countries. This mechanism will allow the realization of international projects and programs in line with the policy of education and science. Moreover, by establishing this mechanism, member organizations of the group will be able to hold meetings quarterly to identify the challenges and discuss solutions and possible technical assistance to solve these challenges.
Over 100 representatives from donors, international development organizations, and civil society organizations attended the consultation meeting.
During the meeting, Minister of Education and Science Mr. Enkh-Amgalan provided clarifications on the following issues.
Concerning the expected results from the consultative meeting, he said,
- “For many years, the governments of Japan and Germany, the Asian Development Bank, and the World Bank have been providing discounted loans for our education sector, and the amounts of projects, implemented in the education and vocational training sector have reached USD 760 million and USD 300 million, respectively. In total, we have received financing of over USD 1 billion. As a result, now education loans and grants are accounting for 10-15 percent of our total debt. However, the results and effectiveness of these loans and grants are still in question. The attendees of this consultative meeting are offering their suggestions on ways to improve the effectiveness of loans and grants, such as avoiding the overlap of loans and encouraging result-based financing methods. For instance, many projects are implemented for supporting disabled people, but they often fail to achieve results due to a lack of coordination. We also discussed other issues with donor and financing organizations, including the possibility to reduce the interest rate and prolong the term of loans. Another main issue was to cooperate with the financing organizations in eliminating the quality gap in educational services in urban and rural areas. To that extent, we have presented our cooperation proposals to the donors and financing organizations. Currently, we are cooperating with Germany on vocational training, with Japan on numerous projects, including school expansion projects, a 1000 Engineers Project, and a Japan-Mongolia Hospital Project, and with KOICA on the school lunch program. There are many more projects are expected to be implemented in the education sector.”
- Will it be possible for our country to get our education loans written off?
For the past 30 years, Mongolia has received over USD 1 billion as loans and grants in the education sector from donors and financing organizations. Most of them have been paid, and now the remaining amount on such loans is about USD 170 million. During this meeting, we also discussed the possibilities of each scenario in writing off the loans, reducing their interests, or extending their terms.
Moreover, the World Bank has launched an initiative to tackle education financing challenges for developing countries. In this regard, the Government of Germany swapped the debt for education programs in Indonesia.
- Professionals who studied abroad with international loans are criticized for not returning to their home country. What is the position of the Ministry of Education and Culture on this matter?
- Mostly, bachelor’s degree students are criticized for such reasons. So, we have started to establish an agreement with the students to bind parties to perform their obligations. Moreover, our universities are offering a 2+2 program for their students, allowing them to complete their last two years in a foreign university. The “President’s Scholar–2100" scholarship program initiated by President of Mongolia Ukhnaagiin Khurelsukh has been successfully implemented since 2021, awarding the best students from each of the 330 soums and capital city's 171 khoroos to study at the world’s best universities. There are other types of scholarships and loans for bachelor’s degree students. Yet, we need to expand the scope of scholarships and loans to include master’s and doctor’s degree students.