Despite having no modern day legal or religious legitimacy, caste and caste discrimination continues to exist in South Asia and particularly in Nepal, where Dalits are still considered untouchable and excluded from mainstream development. Project “SMILE – Touching the Untouchables” is a Social Welfare and Humanitarian Campaign initiated by Solidarity Nepal with the aim of supporting dalit children’s in all five development regions of Nepal.
This project offers educational scholarship, uniforms, stationery materials and resolve their basic & genuine human rights issues. It is associated with increasing the living and educational standards of dalit children’s in rural areas of Nepal.
Dalit children, being disproportionately poor, most heavily suffer the ills of an inequitable and ineffective education system in Nepal. Caste, the placement of individuals and groups in the social hierarchy based on occupation, social group or cultural heritage, is not a new phenomenon and nor is caste or caste discrimination unique to Nepal or South Asia. But that caste discrimination continues to exist in Nepal and that it largely excludes Dalits from education and health service and condemns them to a life of absolute poverty, unable to benefit from sustainable economic development is a problem.
For Dalit Children, Solidarity Nepal visit door to door to distribute edibles, uniforms for schooling, educational expenses & stationery. Arrange/organize Health Care Programs (free medical camping, vaccination programs, mobile dispensaries).
Statistics also show that Dalit children are more likely to drop out than their Non-Dalit counterparts, particularly in the early elementary stages. Education represents one way to break out of cycles of poverty and distress, but it is also a by-product of such economic conditions. Even when Dalits are allowed access to school, Dalit students face substandard conditions. Ninety-nine percent of Dalit students come from government schools that lack basic infrastructure, classrooms, teachers and teaching aid. In contrast, it is common for non-Dalit children to seek private tutoring or to access private education of generally better quality. The motivation to do so comes from the fact that most primary government schools are considered low quality. Few Dalits are able to access such supplementation to their education; this furthers the education gap. Once enrolled, discrimination continues to obstruct the access of Dalit.
The program also concentrates on girls from minority groups in rural slums. 40% of dalit children drop out of school as a result of discrimination from other students and teachers in Nepal.
Teachers (usually from a higher caste background) often view them as unclean and inherently unable to learn; untouchability – the ritual ostracizes of lower caste individuals – is also prevalent in schools.
Solidarity Group is supporting this scheme to help dalit children with excellent results. We need more support from you to keep it running but is now at risk because of lack of financial and technical support. Without your support, dalit children from rural communities will continue to suffer prejudice and lose out on their education.