National Capacity Building Workshop on World Heritage Education successfully held in Mongolia

National Capacity Building Workshop on World Heritage Education successfully held in Mongolia

The National Capacity Building workshop on World Heritage Education: “Heritage in a Box” Project through ASPnet schools in Mongolia was held on 10 April 2017 in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, with the participation of 26 people among governmental authorities, NGOs, representatives from ASPnet schools and other interested schools from the capital and provinces.

The workshop mainly introduced to the Mongolian network of UNESCO Associated Schools the “Heritage in a Box” toolkit, or more precisely the “Heritage in a Bogts” – echoing the name and shape of the typical saddle bag used traditionally by Mongolian nomads during their movements across the steppe. This tool is an adapted version for Mongolia of the UNESCO World Heritage in Young Hands Resource Kit, an interactive and practical instrument created by UNESCO and its partners with the aim to educate children and youth on heritage in an integrated way. The toolkit was piloted in 2016 by UNESCO Beijing Office in seven local schools located in the vicinity of the Orkhon Valley Cultural Landscape World Heritage site as an extra-curricular activity. As a result, a total of 2,591 students of selected classes were given lessons by UNESCO-trained teachers utilizing the toolkit. During the workshop, Ms B.Uelun-Erdene, Executive Director of the Training and Research Institute for World Cultural Heritage in Mongolia NGO, introduced this resource to participants, while Mr J. Batsuuri, Director of the Management Office of the Orkhon Valley Cultural Landscape - World Heritage Site, gave an informative presentation of monitoring and evaluation outcomes of the pilot test.

Mongolians are in great need of rediscovering and reviving their distinctive traditional culture in order to be able to strengthen their national identity, and this can only be done with a bottom-up approach” reflected Mr Batsuuri. “Communities are key in this endeavour and they need to be provided with the knowledge about the importance of the heritage they are repositories of and to which they relate in their everyday life”.

“The use of the ‘Heritage in a Box’ toolkit was not only beneficial for its content, but it also introduced new and innovative teaching tips and methodologies that we don’t commonly use” noticed one of the principals that took part in the piloting exercise last year. “Thanks to the introduction of the ‘Heritage in a Box’ in some of our classes, our school was awarded for ‘best teaching practices’ at the provincial level for two semesters in a row”.

This workshop was carried out as a joint inter-sectoral initiative within the framework of the UNESCO World Heritage Education Programme. The Education and Culture Programme Sectors of the UNESCO Beijing Office joined hands to enhance human and institutional capacity of education and culture sectors in Mongolia and instigate a comprehensive heritage education programme through the UNESCO Associated Schools Project Network (ASPnet). In the workshop, Mr Robert Parua, the Programme Specialist for Education at UNESCO Beijing Office, illustrated UNESCO’s Global ASPnet and World Heritage Education Programmes, providing useful information on existing mechanisms for cooperation and highlighting the role of culture for people’s identity and sustainable development. This was also an occasion to revitalize and strengthen the ASPnet in the country with all 12 schools actively taking part in the discussion.

Mr N.Bold, Head of the Arts and Cultural Policy Department of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Sports of Mongolia (MECSS) observed that “The ‘Heritage in a Box’ is the most significant extra-curricular project currently implemented in the country” and called for raising awareness of relevant policy-makers as the toolkit “needs to be eventually incorporated in the main school curriculum”. To this end, the participants drew a set of recommendations for follow-up action including: the national adaptation of the existing kit with content enrichment; the up-scaling of the kit at the national level using UNESCO ASPnet schools and schools in the vicinity of the four World Heritage sites as entry point; the training of master trainers for the use of the kit as an extra-curricular activity; a feasibility study for the inclusion of the kit in the formal curriculum. UNESCO will seek ways to support such endeavour so as to lead to the institutionalization of World Heritage Education as a project in ASPnet schools and beyond.

The capacity building workshop was organized by the UNESCO Office in Beijing and the Mongolian National Commission for UNESCO in close collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Sports of Mongolia. It was also supported by the ASPnet International Coordination Section at UNESCO Headquarters.

Images © A. Duurenjargal