The Christian Science Monitor

In a changing Mongolia, higher stakes for out-of-school herding boys

Otgonmuren, a 15-year-old with a strong singing voice, will be a herder, like his father. It’s what he’s done since dropping out of school eight years ago: looking after the herd of 300 sheep, goats, horses, and cows. His sisters will go to school. Source: Katya Cengel

In a few days Otgonmuren’s family will pack up their ger, their round felt tent home. It is late August, time for herders to relocate for the winter.

Some of them will relocate, that is. His sisters will stay in town to attend boarding school. Mungunshur, 16, plans to be a doctor. Munkhzul, 8, also plans on college, though she’s not yet sure what she’ll be.

Everyone knows what Otgonmuren will be. The slim 15-year-old with a strong singing voice will be a herder, like his father. It’s what he’s done since dropping out of school eight years ago: looking after the herd of 300 sheep, goats, horses, and cows.

“My daughters can go to another place, maybe even another country, but my son has to stay here so he can herd,”

‘Non-formal' studentsOutside pressuresChanging years and seasons

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