Boarding schools in transition: A post-socialist analysis of “relevance” as an education policy problem in Mongolia

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Mongolia, Boarding schools, Nomadic herders, Post-socialist childhood, Education policy


The rural boarding schools that were established in the socialist era to serve children in Mongolia’s herding communities remain integral to national policy for ensuring universal access to formal education. Education policy actors demonstrate commitment to the socialist legacy of the schooled herder child, while at the same posing legitimate questions as to boarding schools’ quality and contemporary relevance. This questioning is framed with reference to a globally-orientated discourse of standards, outcomes measurement and skills for employability. The paper argues from a post-socialist perspective that this orientation forecloses a nuanced, contextualised understanding of “relevance” as a complex educational policy problem. Drawing on policy documents and secondary literature, it develops and applies a post-socialist conceptual framework to explore the temporal and spatial orientations of rural boarding schools and their “relevance”. The analysis evidences multiple, intersecting layers of change which situate the schooled herder child and constitute Mongolia”s “unfinished business of socialism” in education. The paper concludes that the layering revealed in this analysis needs to be more visible to educational policy; and that to resist oversimplifying the complex problem of education”s relevance is an ontological imperative.


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How to Cite

Dyer, C. ., Luke, A., & Sanjaa, N. (2022). Boarding schools in transition: A post-socialist analysis of “relevance” as an education policy problem in Mongolia. Journal of Childhood, Education & Society, 3(3), 308–321.