An inspiring future engineer

Fifteen-year-old Bandana is a leader in the making. Bandana, with access to new digital school equipment and the support of her teachers, is an aspiring future engineer. She’s also a voice against gender bias and even stepped into the role of mayor for a day.

Bandana facing the camera.
Bandana is standing in front of her home.

At just 15 years old, Bandana, a young girl from the marginalised Dalit community in Dolpa, is setting her sights on an ambitious dream: to become an engineer. Her determination shines through as she dedicates herself to her studies, driven by the desire to excel academically.

Bandana comes from a family of 6, where every meal is a struggle. Her father works as a daily wage laborer, and her mother is a homemaker. The family’s economic hardships forced Bandana’s father to seek employment in India, leaving her in the care of her uncle. Bandana’s family includes 3 sisters and 1 brother, with her uncle playing a pivotal role in supporting her education and overall growth.

An educational journey

In her quest for academic excellence, Bandana found support in various initiatives within her school and community. A child club was established to empower students, with Bandana herself assuming the role of president, showcasing her leadership skills from an early age.

The behavior of teachers in Bandana’s school played a crucial role in her education. They received training to employ innovative teaching techniques, including the use of technology like projectors, to enhance the learning experience for students.

In the remote Dolpa region, where access to quality education is often a challenge, the STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) Ahead project has been launched. The project is funded by the European Union, supported by Plan International Nepal, and implemented by the Social Awareness Centre in Dolpa. This initiative has been instrumental in supporting Bandana’s school and nurturing the dreams of students like her, particularly in the fields of science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics.

Menstrual health management orientation

Addressing important issues, Bandana’s school provided menstrual health management orientation, fostering awareness and understanding among students. Peer education programmes were also implemented to provide students with further knowledge.

“I want to become a voice against discrimination and gender bias, raising awareness about menstruation health management within my school,” Bandana shared.

In her pursuit of engineering, Bandana received valuable career counselling and capacity development opportunities, opening doors to her future.

“I want to become a voice against discrimination and gender bias, raising awareness about menstruation health management within my school.”


Stepping into the digital age

The STEAM Ahead project recognises the importance of preparing students for a rapidly changing world, where skills in STEAM disciplines are highly sought after. It has ushered in a wave of transformation, equipping Bandana and her peers with the tools and knowledge needed to excel.

Through STEAM education and digital learning, students like Bandana have gained access to cutting-edge resources and innovative teaching techniques. This not only broadens their horizons but also empowers them to dream big and aspire to careers in fields that were once considered out of reach.

Three girls using computers.
Girls are learning on computers in Dolpa and accessing the e-library.

One significant contribution of the STEAM Ahead project is the establishment of an e-library, powered by solar panels, which has become a valuable hub for students seeking to expand their knowledge beyond textbooks. This digital resource centre allows Bandana and her fellow students to explore a world of information and opportunities right at their fingertips.

Moreover, the project has focused on inclusivity by accommodating disabled students and providing support through audio and sign language resources. This commitment to inclusivity aligns with Bandana’s vision of a more equitable and just future.

The STEAM Ahead project aims to educate and empower by providing facilities in schools that turn dreams, like Bandana’s of becoming an engineer, from a distant fantasy into a tangible goal within her grasp. As she continues her journey towards academic excellence, Bandana is proof that with determination and the right resources, anyone can achieve their dreams, no matter where they come from.

Leadership in the making

Bandana’s journey took an inspiring turn when she participated in the Girls Takeover programme, a transformative event that saw her temporarily assume the role of Mayor of Tripurasundari Municipality for a day. This remarkable experience allowed her to step into the shoes of a leader, making decisions and contributing to her community’s welfare.

During her one-day tenure as mayor, Bandana demonstrated her unwavering commitment to addressing the needs of her municipality. Her visionary outlook and passion for progress left a lasting impact on those around her.

Bandana’s involvement in the Girls Takeover programme bolstered her confidence and reinforced her determination to pursue her engineering dream, knowing that her potential as a leader could be harnessed to bring positive change to her community.

Bandana acknowledges the support of organisations like the European Union, Plan International Nepal, and Social Awareness Center Nepal, which made the Girls Takeover programme possible. She remains determined to continue her journey towards becoming an engineer and giving back to her municipality, inspired by the brief yet impactful experience of being its mayor for a day.

Education, Girls Get Equal, Sexual and reproductive health and rights, girls’ leadership, Menstruation, Technology for development