Dalit (Untouchable) Girls
Scholarship & Humla

Dalit (Untouchable) Girls Scholarship Program

Our Dalit Girls Scholarship program provides scholarship for Dalit girls (of the untouchable caste) to stay in school and go on to higher education. Dalits are the lowest caste of Hindu society. They are also known as “untouchables”. They are born into their caste, which was originally based on their occupation. Dalits are still persecuted in Nepali and Indian society, unable to enter temples, use the same water tap or well or associate with most people in Nepal society. They endure social exclusion, discrimination, food shortages, lack of education, and violence. About 70% live below the poverty line. Many are forced to work as bonded laborers. There are about 5 million Dalits in Nepal.

Investment in girls education is one of the best methods of fighting poverty, by empowering them to improve their families, quality of life with better nutrition, health care, hygiene, reduced fertility and infant mortality as well as economic benefits.

Dalits have the lowest life expectancy of any other group in Nepal, an average of 48 years, according to the World Health Organization. Dalit women have the highest rate of maternal mortality and the highest rate of children under the age of 5 who die of malnutrition and other largely preventable diseases.

Their life expectancy is seven years lower than the rest of the Nepali population, their female literacy rate shockingly low (12%), and their per capita income far less than the rest of the citizens of Nepal. The child and maternal mortality rates are twice as high as those of the rest of the population. Most of them are deprived of an education, and those who do go to school often suffer segregation and discrimination in the classroom.

A female student from the Dalit community who can finish 10th grade (the last year of high school in the Nepali system) and qualify to take the college entrance exam is rare. And those who pass the exam with good marks even rarer. In a recent year, only 112 Dalit girls passed the entrance exam, compared to 11,000 non Dalit girls.

Although by law, the government sets aside a certain number of seats in medical school for Dalit students, they often go vacant, as there are not enough Dalit girls who have graduated from high school and who can pass the rigorous exams.

The Rising Child Nepal Foundation sponsors girls of the Dalit (“untouchable”) caste to complete 2 years of high school on the American system (nepali high schools go through class 10). This is called “college” in Nepal. We choose girls with great academic potential and provide scholarships to help them stay in school, complete high school and attend college in Kathmandu, with an agreement they will return to their own society and help other Dalits upon completion of their education.

The Humla Project

In traveling to Humla last year, we realised the great need for skilled teachers and for school supplies. This year we are raising money to bring one teacher from a small village school in Humla which we visited last year to Kathmandu to attend teacher training. She has agreed to return to Humla to teach and to train other teachers there.

We are also planning to continue supplying books, paper, school supplies and uniforms to the students in several rural Humla schools. Rural schools all over Nepal almost uniformly lack the most basic needs: chalk boards, chairs, pencils, even teachers and walls in some cases, let alone teaching aides. Poor students cannot afford notebooks but instead often use a scrap of wood painted black and scratched on with chalk, or even mud tablets scratched with a stick or branch. Some recent purchases we have made for the school in Humla: $70 for science lab equipment for a rural secondary school, $50 bought pens and notebooks for 500 children, and $35 bought volley ball equipment to allow students to enjoy recreational and teamwork activities.

All children in Nepal wear uniforms, and even in the rural areas, children take great pride in their uniform, which may be the only nice item of clothing they own. We try to provide each child with two uniforms so they always have a clean one to wear.

Finally, we are considering building a hostel in the main town of Simikot so that girls who otherwise would be unable to study due to the long distances will be able to board a few hours walk from their own homes.