October 3, 1997
CONTACT: Colin McCullough, Sabre Foundation (617) 868-3510
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
SABRE/IREX SEND 'KEY TO A THOUSAND DOORS' TO MONGOLIAN STUDENTS AT FIRST LADY'S REQUEST
"English is seen here as 'the key to a thousand doors'" says Mark Zober, Peace Corps Country Director in Mongolia. "Yet," he observes, "teachers and students do not have access to English-language books. They have little opportunity to read, to browse reference books or to learn on their own after school. In very few cases are classroom textbooks available."
On October 9 the Sabre Foundation will take a first, large step to remedy this problem. This is the scheduled date for unpacking a shipment arriving in the capital, Ulaanbaatar, of 19,978 texts, valued at $483,133, selected by the Consortium of Mongolian Universities and the Peace Corps for distribution throughout the country.
On the American side, the project involves, in addition to Sabre, sixty donating publishers and the International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX), which runs exchange programs with many of the schools and universities to be served.
The impetus for the program came from First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton who asked Sabre to begin a project in Mongolia at a White House event launching earlier Sabre programs for Bosnian and Romanian schools and orphanages. Noting the high quality of Sabre's book inventory, Mrs. Clinton asked Sabre to make donated books available at every level of education in Mongolia.
Through the good offices of IREX, Sabre and the Consortium were linked up and subsequently carried on extensive electronic mail correspondence to effect the collaboration. The Consortium, whose mission is to achieve international standards in academic knowledge and technical capacity, was founded by Mongolia's Medical University, University of Arts and Culture, Technical University, Pedagogical University and National Agricultural University, and has since expanded to a group of 15 member institutions.
In his correspondence with Sabre's Colin McCullough, Dr. D. Badarch, president of the Consortium, expressed the particular need of Mongolia's seven state universities and its total 40,000 students at higher education institutions for English-language reference and scientific books as well as encyclopedias and textbooks of every sort. He stated, "if [these books] are available [they] will be of great importance to us. Because all universities and colleges are working now to reform education programs from the Russian style into the American."
To aid this reform, the Consortium made a selection of the widest breadth possible. From Samuelson's classic Economics to Perinatal Risk and Infant Development, the fields of knowledge include science, math, computer science, philosophy, medicine, human rights, history, environmentalism, law, and English language and literature.
The substantial quantity of books for schoolchildren range from Gateways to Science to Aesop's Fables and Peacemakers: Mahatama Ghandhi as well as multiple copies of textbooks for both primary and secondary levels.
Peace Corps will receive for distribution 1,854 volumes of encyclopedias, dictionaries and health and science reference books for both children and adults, including 32 sets of new World Book Encyclopedia, related reference texts and CD-ROMs.
Sabre Foundation has sent almost three million books to people in need in over 50 countries around the world. While working primarily in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, recent Sabre initiatives include programs for South Africa, Brazil, Grenada, West Bank/Gaza, Cuba, and Tibetan refugee schools in India.
The Mongolian book donation program is made possible by a grant from IREX with matching funds from the United States Information Agency. Ocean freight shipping costs were covered by a grant from U.S. Agency for International Development's Ocean Freight Reimbursement Program.