Me and My New World: Effects of a School Based Social-Emotional Learning Program for Adolescents in Panama

Ana Belinda Arauz Ledezma*, Karlijn Massar, Gerjo Kok

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Gender inequalities still affect the health and well-being of young people worldwide. Given the apprehensions among government and educators in a conservative context like Panama to implement comprehensive sexual education, there is a need for other educational efforts to stimulate healthy and respectful intimate relationships between adolescents. This article examines to what extent a newly developed Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) program, Me and My New World, provides a context in which students can learn to recognize and manage emotions, to care about others and themselves, make responsible decisions, develop social awareness. The program could additionally facilitate behavioral changes of young people towards more gender equality. Specifically, we focused on equal gender roles, equal rights in relationships and nonviolent problem solving, and present the qualitative effect evaluation among adolescents in Panama. The findings suggest that SEL-based lessons might broaden views on how young people experience the process of exploring identity formation, how assumptions of inequalities can be recreated through the lessons, and that SEL can emphasize the significance of choice and decision-making in interpersonal relationships. The perspectives, needs, and limitations highlighted by the adolescents living in a conservative context are highly valuable for improving future learning strategies for the development of healthier relationships
Original languageEnglish
Article number251
Number of pages18
JournalEducation Sciences
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2020


  • equal relationships
  • social-emotional learning
  • gender equality


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