Dormitory – a secure base for first-graders? A study of the daily life of the youngest children at public boarding schools in Mongolia, from a children's rights perspective
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This thesis is based on a qualitative study in which both 6-year-olds and employees from state primary school dormitories in Mongolia were interviewed. The reason for the choice of theme is that in Western Mongolia, as other rural areas of the country, the majority of people leads a nomadic lifestyle where they follow their herds of animals. When the families go to the vast sites on the countryside the parents have to make some choices for their children, as all children in Mongolia are statutory to go to primary education from the age of 6. The most common choice it to send their child to live in one of the 517 state dormitories that are in the country, so that the children can attend school on a daily basis. It has been several 6-year-olds that moved back to their families because they found dormitory life too hard, and the parents would not leave their children there. Therefore, research on the field has been requested, and this master thesis is a contribution that will be a part of the recommendations to the authorities from the project Strengthening Children’s Rights. By going straight to the source, the 6-year-olds themselves, this thesis is seeking to give an impression of how life as a young child in dormitory is. Further, by categorizing their answers and finding relevant theories within social science; both sociology and psychology, the thesis seeks to make a framework to better understand the processes a child goes through when moving from home at an early age. Using development theories by Freud, Erikson, Piaget and Tetzchner as a base, and attachment theory by mainly Bowlsby, makes it possible to understand more of how these young children are coping with living separat from their parents. Also Kvello’s factors of risk and protection is used to explain the challenges met. Theories within attachment is closely linked to children’s needs that are protected through the Convention of the rights of the child (CRC). Hence will the CRC be used as the child’s spokesman, since Mongolia has ratified these laws, and are obliged to lead policy that is in children’s best interest. The aim of this master thesis is to contribute to increased knowledge about 6-year-olds’ cognitive development and needs, and that it might be used as a tool/contribution for the decision makers and adults working with the children at the dormitories.