St. Mary’s School, Lalitpur, Nepal
Considered one of the most prestigious schools in the country, St. Mary’s, former and current students say, reeks of toxicity, with many having had to go through years of harassment, queerphobia, and public humiliation. In the past few days, many former and present students of St. Mary’s School have shared the disturbing experiences they have experienced in the institution.
St. Mary’s School, also known as SMS, is one of the most prestigious all-girls schools in the country and has over the years earned a reputation for delivering high-quality education at lower fees than most private schools in Nepal. The convent school was formally established in 1955, making it one of the oldest private schools for girls in Nepal. And in its six decades of establishment, the Roman Catholic institution, which runs under the management of the Sisters of the Congregation of Jesus, which was founded by Mary Ward in the 17th century, has also opened several branches across the country, including Gorkha, Pokhara and Biratnagar.
Behind this shiny facade, however, according to the many current and former students, the institution reeks of toxicity, so much so that that institution has affected many of them psychologically. According to the students, one of the toxic cultures that exist in the school is its inability to listen and empathise with them. The teachers and the sisters are so indifferent that they don’t care about what the students are going through, students say.
On March 19, without any prior announcement, students with short hair were called in front of the school’s morning assembly and shamed for their hair length, says a current student who was present in the assembly. “Our school was always fine with short hair. But without any announcement they started calling out girls from the assembly who had short hair and started humiliating them,” she says.
Students at St. Mary’s are familiar with the school’s many draconian rules–from the monitoring of the length of the skirt of the students to the regular checking of their undergarments, to ensure that all of them are wearing bloomers- but this new rule that prevented them from having short hair was news to them.
“We are not doing this to defame the school or the teachers. We just want to find a way that can solve and address the concerns of the students. Everybody needs to know about the toxic environment of St. Mary’s. We have suffered enough, but we won’t let the young budding leaders of tomorrow suffer,” says a current student.
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