10 December 2018

Faces of UNICEF: Ulziisaikhan Sereeter, Early Childhood Development Officer at UNICEF Mongolia

Ulziisaikhan Sereeter, Early Childhood Development Officer at UNICEF Mongolia.
©UNICEFMongolia/2018/Sabina Netrvalova

What do you do in UNICEF Mongolia?
I work as an Early Childhood Development Officer and I oversee young children’s issues. I mostly focus on young children aged 0 - 5. For the age 0 - 2, I cooperate with other sectors like health, nutrition, and child protection as part of the integrated Early Childhood Development (ECD) program. For the age 2 - 5, I usually work with kindergartens and preschool education services.

Why is ECD important?
The early years are a crucial period in children’s life. Eighty per cent of brain development happens during age 0 - 2, however the development is very active until age 5. Scientists call it a “window of opportunity” for children. If we invest just one dollar in early childhood development, we earn back 17 dollars in the future. It means that investments into early education development are even more effective than investments into secondary and higher education.

What is your background? What did you do before joining UNICEF?
My academic background is international relations. I have my bachelor’s degree from Mongolian National University and my master’s degree from International School of Japan. Currently I am continuing with my doctoral studies at Mongolian University of Education. 
Before joining UNICEF in 2017, I worked for Save the Children Japan in Mongolia for six years. This experience helped me a lot to understand the issue of early childhood development, preschool education, and secondary education. 

What are the most satisfying parts of your job?
Helping children and contributing to better development of Mongolian children makes me very satisfied. UNICEF Mongolia builds new kindergartens, establishes ger kindergartens, and invests a lot to train the teachers. We also work on new policies to make them more favourable for children’s wellbeing, and to support children’s social, emotional and cognitive development. I am happy that I am making children and their parents happy.

On the other hand, what are some challenges that comes with your job?
We are now building two new kindergartens in Bayanzurkh district of Ulaanbaatar, each for one hundred children, and I feel that the construction work is quite challenging. I don’t have much experience in construction, so it was difficult to prepare all the documentation. It is a very lengthy process.

Ulziisaikhan Sereeter during a visit of a ger kindergarten in Ulaanbaatar.
©UNICEFMongolia/2018/Sabina Netrvalova

What do you consider to be UNICEF’s biggest achievement in regards of ECD?
As Mongolia has a shortage of kindergartens, establishing ger kindergartens and building new facilities means that more children can access early childhood education. UNICEF provides technical support to the government on improving policy environment for preschool education and integrated ECD. Through trainings, it successfully disseminated information on brain development of children and key messages about ECD.   

Can you describe what does your average working day look like?
In the morning, I prioritize the tasks which I have to do. Then I usually have some project implementation work with our partners, I also write project proposals and reports, and follow up on the financial reports. Especially in summer, I welcome some donors, so I have to prepare the visits and make all the arrangements. 

What advice would you give to people seeking similar job as yours?
My advice would be that the educational sector is very rich, and it has a lot of issues that need to be improved. To young people, I would advise to study education at university and try to get some experience in working with young children, for example in kindergartens. This way they can learn what help and support is needed. And a good knowledge of English is important too. 

Can you share with us some of your nice memories while working for UNICEF Mongolia?
Last spring, I visited Gobi-Altai province where UNICEF conducted a training for kindergarten managers and teachers on how to work with children with disabilities. Thanks to this training, one teacher discovered a child who couldn’t speak and made it possible for the child to attend the kindergarten and receive an early learning nonetheless. That is a very nice memory for me.

Written by 
Sabina Netrvalová
UNV in Communications 
UNICEF Mongolia


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