The In-school (IS) cohort is comprised of girls studying in STEM II’s 30 intervention schools. At baseline, the project started its interventions with girls studying in grades 8, 9 and 10. At midline, most of the grade-8 girls had succeeded to grade 9, those in grade 9 upgraded to grade 10, and the girls in grade 10 at baseline graduated from the national Secondary Education Examination (SEE) school leaving exams. STEM II provides support to in-school girls through revision classes and life skills sessions via girls’ clubs and Upgrading Grade classes to help girls successfully move on to grade 11. Beyond this, STEM has provided and monitored various teaching and learning activities to enhance the quality of teaching for girls, including training on student-centered teaching methodologies.
In-School Girls’ Clubs
The STEM II project completed the 2nd round of girls’ clubs (GCs) for IS girls from grades 9 and 10 between August 2018 and March 2019. There was a slight change in the IS GC this year compared to last year, with the project introducing Nepali as a subject in the clubs and increasing the number of mathematics classes to improve learning achievements in numeracy. Thus, starting from the last academic year, the after-school revision clubs’ core subjects were Maths, English, Nepali and Science, as well as training on life skills and adolescent sexual and reproductive health. The number of clubs scheduled was decided based on the individual girls’ tracking data, which contained information on their demographics, academic achievement, project involvement and interest, which was then triangulated with school records.
- Life skill
The STEM team has continuously worked to encourage the girls, along with other stakeholders such as parents, teachers, School Management Committees (SMCs) and Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs) and community members who make a difference in the girls’ lives, to attend both the clubs and regular classes. To motivate and raise awareness of the importance of attending schools, the project has conducted door-to-door campaigns, street dramas, and radio jingles. The graph on the right shows the overall attendance of girls at the clubs.
In order to see if the girls are actually learning during the one-hour GC sessions, STEM II developed an internal learning monitoring system to check the effectiveness of GC. This was measured through a pre and post-test of all core subject content taught in the club. For the second cycle of IS GC, the project conducted 2 rounds of pre and post-tests. Out of 3151 IS girls, 1320 and 981 girls were sampled for the first and second round respectively. The result showed a 58.5 percent increase in the first round and 65.6 percent increase in the second round.
Similar evidence was seen in the midline evaluation, with a 7.6 percent increase in literacy and 22.2 percent increase in numeracy, 4.2 and 10.8 percent in literacy and numeracy respectively higher than the control schools. Furthermore, the girls club has supported the successful transition of 94.5 percent of IS girls into successive grades while eliminating the dropout rates of the 5.5 percent of girls who failed as they continued their education in the same grade. The increased scores in both rounds of tests reflects the success of the club. In the qualitative data collection, the girls have credited the increase to the child-friendly teaching methodologies used in the clubs, the new teaching methodology in Maths (worksheet designed by experts from Kathmandu University), lower class sizes and all-girls set up, which allows the girls to ask questions and get clarity on the subject matter without interference.
The Girls’ Clubs have always been the backbone of the in-school intervention in directly supporting girls’ learning outcomes. The girls have reiterated the fact that the clubs have not only helped them academically, but also boosted their self-confidence.
“With my continuous efforts and support from the facilitators in the club, the girl who failed her exams last year now has secured the top position in her exams. I am really excited about my performance – my confidence has increased, and I am much more enthusiastic to perform better in my exams and achieve the dreams of my life.”
In school girls club participants
SEE Upgrade Classes
Every year, the students of grade 10 sit the Government of Nepal’s Secondary Education Examination (SEE), which is considered to be a milestone for students and a key element in determining their future career. Following the introduction of the grading system in Nepal two years ago, students who score below 1.6 GPA are not allowed to study Science, Management and Humanities, which are the most popular courses in Nepal. The project team provided extra classes (free of cost) to those who wanted to increase their grades through retaking exams. 876 girls (57 percent) from 28 schools then signed up for the grade upgrade classes in order to improve their chances of continuing to study the subjects of their choice and move on to grade 11 successfully. Of the 876 girls in 16 clusters, 54.7 percent were Tharu, 33.2 percent were Brahmin/Chhetri, 9.5 percent were Dalit, 2.3 percent were Janjati and 0.3 percent were from other ethnic groups.
The table below presents the initial grades secured by 790 girls in English, Math, Science, Social Studies and Economics and the grades they scored after joining the grade upgrade Class. Although a larger number of girls took the classes, the following figures are limited to the number of girls whose grades were available through the survey conducted by the project. The table shows that, in general, the classes led to an improvement in the students’ grades, which will support some of them to select the subject which they want to study at a higher level.
Teacher quality improvement
To ensure that girls improve their learning outcomes in school, teachers participated in a Training of Trainers, incorporating proven methodologies that meet girls’ needs, reinforce the national curriculum, and provide additional academic support where appropriate. These new teaching and learning methodologies have been reinforced through many different strategies that build an enabling environment for teachers. These include opportunities to build learning and sharing networks with colleagues across the district; communication networks; opportunities to engage in joint planning across disciplines at a district level; and collaborative assessment sessions with teachers.