APRIL 2017 – JUNE 2020
£1,562,542 / $1,990,835
Supporting the Education of Marginalised Girls in Kailali II (STEM II) is a UK Department for International Development (DFID)-funded programme which seeks to improve girls’ educational outcomes, increase their access to income-generating activities and cultivate an enabling environment for sustainable changes toward girls’ empowerment.
In Kailali District, Far Western Nepal, 36% of girls ages 10 -14 do not transition from primary to secondary school, resulting in more than 50% of girls ages 15 -19 not enrolled in school compared to only 23% of boys the same age. Traditional socio-cultural norms which favour girls for domestic labour to boost household income and invest in boys’ education for perceived longer- term security reinforce gender discrimination around access to education. The situation is further compounded by deeply entrenched practices such as providing dowry for girls, the tendency to keep girls socially secluded with limited mobility, and inequitable access to and control over economic assets and property. Dropout rates in the Far West are exacerbated by the economic disparity of households in Kailali District, where the poverty rate is 33.6% as compared to the national average of 25.2%.
The consequences are very real: not only are girls’ life opportunities severely limited, but a whole range of other development objectives – on individual, household, community, institutional and structural levels – are seriously curbed when girls remain uneducated.
STEM II works with 30 treatment schools and 15 control schools across three municipalities (one sub-metropolitan and two rural) in Kailali District, Far Western development region.
METHOD & APPROACH
The STEM II program uses an adaptive management approach focused on learning, transition and sustainability through girls’ increased attendance, positive community attitudes and behaviour change around girls’ education, improved school management and APRIL 2017 – JUNE 2020 | £1,562,542 / $1,990,835 | DFID | NEPAL SUPPORTING THE EDUCATION OF MARGINALISED GIRLS IN KAILALI II (STEM II) mercycorps.org governance, teacher quality improvement and stronger economic empowerment for girls at an individual and household level.
STEM II builds capacity to ensure that girls are more resilient and contribute to more resilient communities by equipping them with academic and income-generating technical skills. The program seeks to support girls to transition to safe livelihoods by equipping them with viable market skills, vocational training and opportunities to engage in small business and entrepreneurship. A key focus of STEM II is facilitation of this model toward sustainability through replication and scale-out throughout the country, with multiple sources of investment and buy-in from a wide network of stakeholders.
At the core of STEM is its free Girls Clubs (GCs), created to improve girls’ learning and encourage girls who are in school to remain there until they pass their School Education Examination (SEE), and to help those who are out of school (OOS) and dropped out in the past two years to return to formal education and remain in school thereafter.
Girls who have passed their SEE or are OOS and considered unlikely to return to formal education are channeled through STEM into non-formal education where they are trained on financial literacy and business skills. Upon completion of training, the girls are directed toward one of two pathways – vocational training and subsequent interfacing with local employers, or training as sales agents of clean energy products for female entrepreneurs established under the project.
- Thus far, STEM II has successfully tracked 4,481 In School (IS) girls (ages 11 – 26) from grade 8 to 10, 897 OOS girls (ages 14 – 34) and 847 In School Graduates (ages 15 – 26) who reside in the project area and have expressed interest in working with STEM
- 115 IS GCs have been established to-date, where 4,481 girls receive after school instruction in Math, English and Science
- 201 girls have received Girls’ Transition Fund (GTF) to-date, 24 of which are second-time loan recipients, and one of which is a thirdtime loan recipient
- Approximately 1,000 OOS girls are receiving GC curriculum to enhance their learning
The Girl’s’ Transition Fund (GTF) gives young women an opportunity to become entrepreneurs, and crucially dispels misconceptions about their ability to manage commercial loans. GTF provides affordable finance in the form of small loans to OOS girls who lack access to educational, vocational and financial opportunities. These loans enable financial independence and improve the socio-economic status of OOS girls and women.