Creative and intellectual project “Step By Step”

There are many wonderful and wise sayings about reading, such as “A book is a window to the world”. “The more you read, the more you learn”, “The more you learn, the more places you visit”, “Think before you speak. Read before you think.” So, let’s share a success story of a creative and highly intellectual project that has been a window for children to expand their knowledge and inspire them to learn new things. This is the Step by Step project implemented by the Alpha team formed by secondary school students in Khujirt soum, Uvurkhangai aimag.

Students Z.Ankhzaya, B.Battuguldur, C.Uugantsetseg, and B.Ulziijargal formed a team after participating in the ESEL training under the project “Entrepreneurship-Focused Socio-Emotional Skills for the Most Vulnerable Youth in Rural Mongolia”, successfully participated in the “Entrepreneur Seeds” grant competition held in March 2022, and received funding. The support of G.Tsoodol, a social worker, who acted as a facilitator trainer for the project, also contributed to their success.

The idea behind their project is simple but meaningful. The project participants noticed that their soum and school libraries had a very limited selection of books and decided to offer readers a wide choice and low prices. The purchase of popular bestsellers and the most sought-after books with project funds was an innovative idea and created intellectual capital in the minds of students and local residents. Project participants offered their customers the opportunity to rent and read at least 7 books for the price of buying one book in a bookstore.

What does the Step By Step project do? Books purchased with project funding are rented out at 10% of the book’s store price. Customers who rent books and read them for 3 consecutive weeks qualify to read one book of their choice for free. We also give regular customers coffee every two weeks and organize book discussions every month to help students spend their free time more effectively, strengthen their knowledge and learn to communicate openly with others.

Why would you need a paper book? Of course, when there are so many free books online, why read a paper book? Devices such as e-books, computers, phones and iPads emit ultraviolet rays that not only harm our eyesight but also affect other organs. The sense of smell and touch when reading a paper or printed book help to vividly store memories of it in our right brain.

In addition to the school students, teachers, staff and residents of the soum benefited from this service since the beginning of the project. This service helped them to use their free time more effectively and read the books they wanted at a low price. Z.Ankhzaya, a member of the team, says, “Since the beginning of our project, we have rented out books to a total of 78 people, with double counting. I get inspired and energized by the readers’ comments.

Let me share some comments from the readers. B.Erdenechimeg, education manager of Khujirt soum secondary school: “The students of the school implement many projects that meet the needs of both children and adults. One of them is the book rental project “Step by Step” of the Alpha team. This project not only saves money of its users, but also makes a huge investment in the minds of our readers. It is nice to have a bookstore that offers a large selection of books and the latest bestsellers. After the project started, it was noticed that the children and young people loved the books and were enthusiastic about reading them.

A.Anujin, a 12th grade student from the secondary school of Khujirt soum: “This rental service gives us kids an opportunity to read contemporary bestsellers at a lower price than the store price, which gives us more motivation to read books. Also, the limited rental time helps me carve out time and spend it more effectively by reading books”

In addition to classes, Alpha Team members develop activity plans, rent books, promote their services, and organize discussions. These activities help them learn to be punctual, do their job well and on time, improve their teamwork and financial management skills, and continue to grow together.

ESEL training organized under the “Entrepreneurship-Focused Socio-Emotional Skills for the Most Vulnerable Youth in Rural Mongolia” project in Khujirt soum of Uvurkhangai aimag not only provides entrepreneurship skills and education to children, but also gives them an opportunity to discover, develop, learn and challenge themselves.