With the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Mongolia was abruptly cut off from its exterior financial and technical support. Rebuilding the country's human resources became a top priority. Even though the majority of the Mongolians are literate and numerate, the dramatic shift in political and economic system meant that new training and learning opportunities were needed to cope and take advantage of changing realities.
In 1991 the Mongolian government, with the support of UNESCO, developed a non-formal distance education system capable of responding to the population learning needs. The women of the Gobi desert were identified as being the most in need of learning opportunities and by 1996 thousands of women were taking part in learning activities offered through radio, printed material and the support of visiting teachers.