This report describes some Save the Children US programs in Siraha, Nepal, and their effectiveness in improving educational opportunities and success for children in excluded dalit (untouchable) caste groups. It looks at the advantages of supports targeted specifically at dalits, and compares them to more broadly targeted efforts to improve the quality of education. Research findings indicate that special dalit incentives and supports have had little impact outside the context of these broader efforts.
Only 30 percent of Siraha’s dalit children are in school, compared to 57 percent for all groups,or 80 percent for the country as a whole. Dalit girls are half as likely as their brothers to attend school. This is a significant expression of dalit exclusion, and also ensures that this exclusion continues. Without the basic skills provided by a primary education, dalit children have no way to break out of dire poverty, and their status as the lowest of the low is perpetuated. Even for those who are enrolled, prospects are not good. More than 75% of children who enroll in Siraha drop out before they complete grade 5, owing in large part to the poor quality of available schooling.
This report looks at three programs, undertaken in close collaboration with the District Education Office and local partner NGOs:
1. the dalit support program, which provides financial and material support for school, motivational support for families and children, and extra tuition each day for the first four months of the school year;
2. the child-friendly school program, which provides extra materials for play and learning, teacher training in active learning methods, a child rights focus, and support for the active
involvement of parents and community
3. the ECD program, which supports parenting groups as well as center-based programs for 3-5 year olds, where structured active learning, free play and support for the transition to
school are provided.