The Power of Peer Learning in Action: EOL Subregional Learning Event in Mongolia

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Learning event Mongolia
Participants at the Subregional Learning Event in Mongolia

Identifying best practices and collaborative opportunities, four national education coalitions share experiences, challenges, and opportunities.

In September 2023, the Asia Pacific Regional Management Unit of Education Out Loud (EOL) organized a sub-regional learning event in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. The event included four national education coalitions, with three from Central Asia (AFE Mongolia, AED Kyrgyzstan, ACTE Tajikistan) and one from Eastern Europe (Moldova). The primary goal of the workshop was to foster a space for mutual learning and knowledge exchange among EOL grantees in the region. Participants aimed to share insights into their project progress, experiences, challenges, and opportunities, with the broader objective of identifying best practices and collaborative opportunities. Furthermore, the event offered an opportunity to build informal connections and an environment conducive to easy interaction. 

Workshop Highlights: Sharing Project Progress and Lessons Learned

The workshop commenced with each National Education Coalition (NEC) presenting their project progress and sharing valuable lessons learned along their journey. This knowledge exchange session played a pivotal role in promoting the sharing of ideas. The coalitions also had the opportunity to showcase their recent achievements made possible through EOL support, along with insightful strategies. The active participation of attendees included thoughtful questions seeking clarity and requests for reports and other knowledge products to deepen their understanding of these strategies. 

Facilitators from regional management units offered their observations to the coalitions and guided them through the learning framework, drawing from past lessons learned and reports submitted. Adaptive management practices, which the grantees found beneficial for aligning expectations with coalition efforts, were discussed. The presentation by the Regional Education Advisor for EOL on promoting learning cultures, EOL learning frameworks, and learning collaboratives generated significant interest among participants. During reflection exercises, the value of this input in enhancing the learning culture within the Coalition and EOL implementation was evident. The discussion on adaptive management focused on its utility as a planning tool to incorporate learning for effective project implementation. There was also an opportunity to revisit sections of the report and reflect on how to make them more explicit, concise, and focused, particularly in the context of writing reports and documenting lessons learned. The presentation by the Regional Finance Manager, covering finance and compliance topics, including anti-corruption, conflict of interest, audits, and other compliance, was well-received by participants.

Insights from In-House Experts: Observation, Experience, and Inspirations 

After observing interactions and presentations from the coalitions, the workshop outlined topics for panel discussions. Participants were invited to deliver brief panel presentations on the areas of their engagement and expertise, allowing NECs to share their insights and best practices, focusing on areas of strength.


AFE Mongolia 

AFE Mongolia shared their experiences related to member engagement and shared responsibilities among members. Their insights served as an inspirational source for other coalitions looking to boost member motivation and enhance ownership of coalition initiatives. Key takeaways from this panel included the value of collaborative planning, shared responsibilities, and a sincere appreciation of members' contributions. The coordinator also emphasized the importance of focusing on NEC strategies by identifying priorities, enabling them to work efficiently with other civil society networks. 

Another significant panel discussion featured representatives from AFE members LGBTIQ Centre and Princess Centre, who advocate for the need to address the concerns of sexual minorities and adolescent girls, respectively. During this panel, they shed light on gender and inclusion aspects within the work of National Education Coalitions (NECs), which they observed during the progress-sharing sessions on the first day and based on their experience in AFE Mongolia. They emphasized the importance of further enhancing action strategies for inclusion.


Newer Coalitions Benefit from More Experienced Ones 

Another panel discussion was organized on the third day of the workshop, consisting of representatives from new coalitions (ACTE Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Moldova), was organized toward the end of the workshop and proved to be a valuable opportunity for reflection. It provided a platform to address their concerns and set priorities for future learning efforts. They stressed the need for further ongoing support to institutional strengthening of the coalition and ways to maintain members’ motivation. 

AED Kyrgyzstan 

The coordinator of AED Kyrgyzstan noted the event's usefulness for their "young coalition," which had questions regarding organizational development, member relationships, and team building. They found answers to some of these questions through the experiences shared by other coalitions. The importance of member engagement, building ownership, and actively listening to members were highlighted. 

ACTE Tajikistan 

The Coordinator of ACTE, a recently joined coalition, shared her experience, which exceeded her expectations. She had anticipated hearing about the project progress of AFE Mongolia, AED Kyrgyzstan, and APSCF Moldova, particularly regarding inclusiveness, engagement in policy dialogues, strengthening civil society, and strategies for learning, sharing, and cooperation at the sub-regional level. She found the three-day workshop memorable for its professionalism, group work, comprehensive coverage of topics, friendly atmosphere, and the establishment of connections with colleagues from other coalitions. She appreciated the professional and innovative language used by facilitators, which provided a concise overview of the covered topics and work done. She also found the support on best practices and challenges in writing project reports, observation, due diligence, risk mapping, financial reporting, audit, and adaptive management equally valuable. 

APSCF Moldova 

The National Coordinator of APSCF Moldova found the learning event very useful and enriching. They shared that it offered an excellent opportunity to exchange good practices and lessons learned, as well as ideas and views on improving coalition activities and education. Personal learning from the exchanges and discussions within the workshop, including ideas such as creating thematic groups within the coalition, improving board activity, enhancing the fundraising committee, and exploring topics like alternative budgeting and gender balance in education, was highlighted. The coordinator was impressed by the activities and projects implemented by other coalitions, emphasizing the value of learning and sharing with other coalitions. They expressed the need for more learning-sharing events in the future, ideally with field engagement activities for learning exchanges with other coalitions. The coalitions are planning a sharing meeting with their boards and members to apply the knowledge gained from the workshop. 


Strengthening Bonds and Enriching the Experience 

The pleasant weather and breathtaking scenes in Mongolia, particularly during daylight hours, added an element of fun and excitement to the learning event. Furthermore, AFE Mongolia went to great lengths to ensure the logistical arrangements were perfectly organized and engaged participants in informal gatherings, providing an excellent opportunity for team building and strengthening bonds among participants. In conclusion, the sub-regional learning event in Mongolia vividly showcased the remarkable power of peer learning. Through the open sharing of experiences, best practices, and collaborative discussions, the participating coalitions not only enriched their knowledge but also expressed their commitment to more proactive efforts in learning exchange. Such events serve as beacons of hope, illuminating the path to enhanced learning cultures, ultimately benefiting the communities these coalitions serve in their mission to promote the right to education.  

The EOL grantees in the subregion stand united and inspired, ready to tackle the challenges of education and create a more equitable world.