Combining Pedagogy with Good Management
Chair of the Methodology Department of the School of Preschool Education at Mongolia’s National University of Education, Ms Tserennadmid Shagdarsuern, is leading a highly skilled team which is training more than 1,000 tertiary students to be early childhood teachers across Mongolia. Tserennadmid (called Nadia for short), is both an experienced and qualified educator, and a management expert. Nadia started her own educational “journey” with a vocational course at a Preschool Education College in Russia – from 1986 to 1988.
“I taught for a while and later I was asked to join the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science; while I was there I realised that there were many skilled teachers (at all levels:) in the Ministry, nobody really possessed the management skills necessary to run a very large organisation – an education ministry.”
Nadia was not successful in applying for an Australia Award at her first attempt, but was successful in the following year. From her experience working in the Ministry, she realised that she could make the greatest contribution to Mongolian preschool education by building her own and others’ management skills. Her professional development in the new field was accepted by MASP, based on the priorities by MECS working group at that time.
In 2011, she travelled to Melbourne where she began her Master of Business Administration (MBA) course at the Victorian Campus of Central Queensland University (CQU). “My family and I visited many Australian cities and tourist sites and attractions, and it was also a great opportunity to make new friends with Australian people and Master’s students of many different nationalities who I studied with.”
The knowledge she gained from her MBA, along with an inherent desire and drive to make positive changes in Mongolian education has resulted in many physical changes to the School of Preschool Education as well as management changes.
Through funds sourced from the University’s development fund and external bodies such as KOICA, Nadia is transforming the School from a “standard” learning faculty to an exciting, welcoming and productive place for young Mongolians to learn about preschool education. She has done all of this herself – from the grant proposal stage, supported by her team.
The funds she has sourced have resulted in classrooms being refurbished and restructured, new equipment provided to help students better understand the resources young children need to learn, and introduction of state-of-the-art audio-visual technology in classrooms.
But most dramatic of all the changes Nadia and her team have made are those to the model Preschool which operates as a learning experience for the students, while offering a quality preschool program for almost 100 local children. “The model kindergarten was very well received by the Local Government, and we plan to offer one class for children who have no access to the pre-school education in the suburbs near the university”, Nadia explained.
The “laboratory” is set up so that that the university students can simulate a real-life situation by playing with toys themselves, and also by conducting observations of children attending the preschool, while not interfering with the children in the classroom – through a one-way mirror system. Nadia values greatly her Australian MBA opportunity. “All that I have achieved so far at the Pedagogical University is thanks to my studies in Australia”, she said. She identified significant improvements in her research and analysis approaches, improved communication skills, and a better understanding of the need for diversity in the workplace.
These “add-on” skills all contribute to her very effective advocacy for preschool education in Mongolia – and also in sourcing project funds from organisations such as UNICEF and Save the Children to improve the learning experiences for preschool trainee teachers at the University. When asked about her future plans, Nadia explained that she is happy working at the University. “I am driven to be the best at my current job at the University to develop my teaching skills, take on interesting projects, and work with people in the Preschool education sector in other countries including Australia.”