Ten representatives of areas (the Ulaanbaatar city, and Khovd, Bayankhongor, Bulgan, and Kentii provinces), which had presented good performance at a national level competition, and Ms. Orgilmaa, the local project coordinator visited Japan as part of JICA funded “Sustainable Use of ICT in Improving the Quality of Primary Education in Rural Mongolia” project that commenced in March 2012. In the eleven-day stay, they visited two elementary schools and one junior high school, and visited Ugo Junior High School, Komagata Elementary School, and Inagawa Junior High School in Akita from Jan. 30th to Feb. 1st, 2014.
Having stayed at low ranks in the national performance assessment in the 50s and 60s, the Akita prefecture paid continuous effort and invested 56 billion yen (about 560 million US dollars) to conduct small-class teaching, performance measurement, programs to improve mathematics and arithmetic performance, and acknowledge excellent teachers. As a result, the prefecture has continuously been ranking very high in the national assessment in recent years.  Researchers of Yamaguchi Laboratory also reports the high quality of their education through their prior visit to Akita. The Mongolian delegation’s visit aims to learn overall aspects of the schools, that is, not only the project theme ICT integration, but also their teaching methods, teacher training, and school management.
On the first day of the visits in Tokyo, they observed classes at Aoyama Elementary School. The school has been promoting integration of ICT via collaboration with other organizations such as private companies. They used tablet PCs in the arithmetic class. The aim is to make students familiar with ICT devices and to make the teaching and learning process more efficient. The Mongolian teachers looked very interested in the teaching method and were taking notes.
On the second day, they visited Omori-dairoku Junior High School. The school is one of the UNESCO Schools in Japan and practices the Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). The school was awarded as the best UNESCO School in Japan 2012.
Following the greeting from the school principal, the delegation divided into groups and observed different classes. For example, the world history class featured how the European continent went into the World War I. The teacher introduced a recording from a TV program to attract students’ attention and to efficiently and effectively present the place’s situation at the time. In addition, PowerPoint and the Over-Head Projector were used to supplement the blackboard teaching and present students’ group work. The Mongolian teachers seemed excited and were keenly taking notes.
After morning classes, students cleaned classrooms and corridors, and organized their study environment by themselves. The delegation was interested to see how students are self-disciplined.
In the afternoon session, we had Japan-Mongolia cultural exchange. The students introduced various Japanese cultures and customs such as eating style, school life, and calligraphy in English. The contents’ coverage was amazingly broad and even Japanese participants from our laboratory found something new to know. Mongolian teachers then presented the geography and culture of Mongolia. Students were excited to listen to new things such as Mongolian traditional games, and made a lot of questions. The session overall was an exiting moment.
They visited Shimizukubo Elementary School on the third day. They used a MIT-developed programming software “Scratch” to represent the move of the Great Bear. The aim is to let students experience ICT and to teach the movements of heavenly bodies. Professors and students were invited from Tokyo Tech as instructors and assistants.
We had school lunch with students. The Mongolian teachers enjoyed chats with the students, and learned how carefully the menu was created considering various points such as nutrition balance and effects on teeth.
In the afternoon, Mongolian teachers were divided into classes and introduced Mongolian culture such as games. The game uses a special dice with animals engraved on surface. Participants compete according to the order of different animals. All classes were very excited for the game.
Mongolian teachers learned a lot of know-hows and tips through their class observations, and discussions with school principals, vice presidents, teachers, and education practitioners at the two elementary schools and one junior high school in Tokyo. After all the activities of eleven days, the delegation returned to Mongolia and has been developing and improving education materials based on the experience.