Anjana Chaudhary, 16, is a bashful, giggly teenager with sparkly eyes and huge smile. She is in grade 9 at the secondary school in her village, a rural area in westernmost Nepal where girls face extreme challenges to receiving an education, including the pressure to marry early, unequal household responsibilities, and a lack of familial support. Over 50 percent of girls in Kailari are not enrolled in school, and 40 percent are married before their 18th birthday.
Mercy Corps’ STEM program supports in-school girls with extra tutoring sessions in math and science two days per week to help them complete their education. Mercy Corps also improves infrastructure when needed; Anjana’s school received a water tap and improved sanitation facilities, that lack of which were previously causing dropouts.
Participating in the program has helped Anjana build confidence and thrive in her classes, and she plans to stay in school so she can get a good job when she is older. "I was able to learn more than in regular school," she says of the tutoring sessions. I wanted to do it, "because it will make my future bright." Anjana’s mother, Balkumari, also participated in the parent training Mercy Corps facilitated at the school, which aims to increase parents’ support of girls’ education.