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The Asia Foundation
Addressing the Critical Issues Facing Asia - 60 Years
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Asia Foundation and Shirin Pandju Merali Foundation Partner with Zorig Foundation in Mongolia to Launch University Scholarship Program for Women

60 Merali Scholars will Receive Four-Year Undergraduate Scholarships at Prestigious Mongolian Universities

July 30, 2010 — Ulaanbaatar – In a country where a limited portion of students enroll in higher education, many young Mongolian women face challenges in pursuing studies at a college or university. Committed to improving access to education across Asia, The Asia Foundation today launched the Shirin Pandju Merali Foundation Scholars Program in Mongolia to support university education for qualified female students who, despite their academic competence, are unable to continue their education due to financial constraints.

Through a generous donation from the Shirin Pandju Merali Foundation, established by Pandju Merali in honor of his late wife, Shirin Merali, the program will provide four-year scholarships to 60 women at two prestigious public universities in Ulaanbaatar: National University of Mongolia (NUM) and Mongolian University of Science and Technology (MUST). The  program in Mongolia will enroll 48 women in hard-science bachelor’s degree programs and 12 in social science bachelor’s degree programs.

The Asia Foundation will partner with a local Mongolian non-governmental organization, the Zorig Foundation, which has extensive experience in implementing scholarship programs in Mongolia to support the selection and monitoring of scholarship recipients.. The first scholars in Mongolia will enroll in September 2010. All costs for tuition, fees, educational supplies, and books will be covered by the scholarships.

Studies show higher education is essential to reducing poverty. Population increases in Ulaanbaatar, and great distances across Mongolia, combined with poor infrastructure and seasonal challenges in rural areas contribute to difficulties in providing children and youth with quality education – critical for driving economic growth. This program is especially timely given Mongolia’s recent winter Dzud during which extremely cold temperatures resulted in the loss of more than eight million livestock that disproportionally affected herder families in rural areas.

Since 1954, The Asia Foundation has worked to improve access to and the quality of education across Asia—especially for girls. In 1993, the Foundation was the first international NGO to set up operations in Mongolia. Since then, the Foundation has played an instrumental role in developing and strengthening governance and civil society in Mongolia.

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