Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, existing structural and socio-economic inequities in Nepal excluded most adolescent girls from schooling. More than 80 percent of girls who have left school did not find the support needed for systemic issues like forced marriage, excessive household work, menstruation, harassment, and trafficking. As gender remains the single strongest determinant of school participation among adolescents, it is important to understand the social-emotional needs of adolescent girls and how can they be addressed.

What is transformative social-emotional learning?

Transformative social-emotional learning (TSEL) holds promise to address girls’ needs so they can reap both the academic and overall emotional and mental well-being benefits of attending school. However, in order for girls to access TSEL, female teachers must also have opportunities to strengthen their own emotional literacy, examine and reflect critically on the roots of inequity, and foster collaborative solutions to these community and societal problems. To ensure gender equity in Nepal, it is imperative that we support the emotional literacy of female teachers, especially those teaching at the secondary level.

As an Echidna Global Scholar, I conducted research in July and August of 2022 to identify the social-emotional needs of adolescent Nepalese girls and the roles of female teachers in addressing those needs and to better understand the support teachers themselves are (or are not) receiving. I obtained data and insights using mixed methods research with 249 adolescent girls, 15 female teachers, and six school leaders (principals, vice-principals, and school coordinators) in seven secondary-level community schools and two learning centers from three different districts—Kathmandu, Lalitpur, and Kavrepalanchowk—in Bagmati Province, as well as an extensive review of research and policy documents.

My research uncovered startling findings.

Read the full article about social-emotional learning by Bhawana Shrestha at Brookings.