Dalit children's experiences and perspectives regarding school participation in Nepal
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The caste based discrimination has been a matter of great discussion in societal and governmental level in Nepal. Several scholars have discussed this matter focusing on how people have been discriminated in the ground of caste in society, and other social and governmental institutions. There are also some contributions focusing in particular on how dalit people have been excluded from education. It has been noticed, however, that children perspectives and voices about their schooling experiences has so far not been explored. Therefore my thesis focuses in particular on the dalit children’s experiences and perspectives on issues related to school participation. The main purpose of my study is to explore the experiences of Terai Dalit children with regard to their school participation and to see how social, cultural and economical aspects have been shaping their experiences in one context in the Sunsari district. It further examines children and parents perspectives on different aspects of school environment and further changes compared to earlier generations. The project follows the notion of the Social Studies of Children and Childhood which views children as competent beings, having their own rights and perspectives on the matter that concern them. The project further makes use of a qualitative approach for data collection and its analysis. Data has been collected by using observation, interviews, focus group discussion and filing the time framed daily activities. Though children are the main informants of this study, I have also interviewed parents to make use of their perspectives on different social, cultural and economical issues and thus to explore the children’s family context. The field work included 23 children participants from the age of 10-18. There were 20 school going children which include 13 girls and 7 boys. I have also interviewed and observed there boys aged who have recently dropped out from school and also 5 parents from the community. The study realized that different social, cultural and economical aspects of the society and family have been restricting children to participate and complete their schooling in the community. According to what the children and the parents express, the disappointing outcome from lower quality education provided for Dalit children seemed to have greater impacts than children and parent’s awareness level for the lower rate of Dalit children’s participation in schooling. The findings also indicate that the government support has been encouraging to send children to school but it fails to sustain them to school till completion. The equality in ‘quality education for all’ than merely ‘education for all’ can be better option to bring changes among Dalits through education.