Scholar aims to improve education for visually impaired people in Mongolia
Posted: 28 November 2023
Bilguun Sergelentsogt is an Australia Awards scholar who will commence his Scholarship journey in 2024, when he will undertake a Master of Inclusive and Specialised Education at Flinders University. Bilguun is a severely visually impaired person who currently works as an English teacher for secondary education in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. With a lifechanging opportunity at hand, Bilguun aims to improve education and the social environment for visually impaired people in Mongolia after completing his Scholarship. We recently asked him a few questions about himself and his expectations about his Scholarship experience. His responses below are an insight into his passions and aspirations.
Can you tell us about your journey so far?
I had a pretty rough childhood because other kids always mocked me because of my disability. Discrimination against me was present in every place I went. Thus, I was a quiet and shy individual. However, that changed when I started learning piano. Learning music taught me dedication and diligence as well as giving me an inspiration and strength to push myself beyond my limits.
Later, I graduated from the National University of Mongolia and worked as an English language teacher for three years at school 102. Landing my job was very difficult because most people considered that I was incapable of being a teacher. However, while I was working, I participated in a district Olympiad for ESL (English as a Second Language) teachers and won third place. Additionally, I got a TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certificate from Concordia University, and the Ministry of Education awarded me the title of ‘methodologist teacher’.
Bilguun receiving his TESOL certificate from the General Authority for Education
How do you expect your Scholarship experience in Australia to transform your life, especially as a person with disability?
I firmly believe that one must always seek novel challenges in order to grow as a person. Studying in Australia will offer me a great deal of experience and knowledge. Thus, I see the Australia Awards Scholarship as a lifetime opportunity to experience new things and challenge myself to further extend my understanding and pursue my career as a special needs educator. Living and studying in Australia will certainly be different from my country. Here, commuting from home to work isn’t necessarily difficult for me because everything is familiar. However, I am about to go to a different environment and will probably take a certain amount of time to adjust. Furthermore, I have to push my boundaries and study diligently if I want to succeed in my learning, as I understand that universities in Australia require time and dedication to complete a course successfully. Overall, engaging with new people and adapting to a different place seem very exciting to me.
How will you use the Australia Awards Scholarship for your country’s development?
In my country, education for people with disability is utterly neglected by the government. There are very few schools and professional teachers that are providing education for students with disability. I graduated high school from school 116, which is a school dedicated for people with visual impairment. I recall that most of the teachers didn’t know braille and there were few textbooks written in braille. I aim to change this situation and improve the quality and effectiveness of the education that students with disability in Mongolia are receiving. I intend to conduct seminars for teachers who are working at special schools dedicated for students with disability, and conduct various studies on the working conditions of the teachers and learning environment of the students who are learning there. I will collaborate with non-government organisations and organise student and teacher exchange programs. Based on the data that I collect, I will propose policies and legislations that will impact the education of people with disability in Mongolia and change how the rest of society perceive us.
Bilguun speaking with the Australian Ambassador to Mongolia H.E. Katie Smith at school no.102
What is your message for Mongolians, especially other people with disability, who are looking to apply for an Australia Awards Scholarship?
In our country, it is painfully true that people with disability are mostly looked down upon by society. I have faced countless acts of discrimination and I believe that some of you have faced similar situations as I have. So, we have to work ten times as hard as other people if we want to be accepted by others. Australia Awards is one of the greatest opportunities that you can get to extend your knowledge and experience to make a great contribution to the country we are living in. Moreover, if you succeed in receiving an Australia Awards Scholarship, it will act as proof that you have worked diligently and pushed yourself as far as you can. Therefore, start preparing for the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) exam and never let yourself give in to laziness. I believe that it is a goal worth pursuing because it will definitely change the course of your life.