Two years ago, Barsha, a 12-year-old girl living in the Pipara Municipality of Nepal’s Mahottari District, was not enrolled in school.
Barsha belongs to an ethnic community (Dalit) classified as one of the lowest in Nepal’s caste system . Although many children have gained access to education over the past years through the efforts of the Government and development partners, including through the support of GPE, certain groups have less, or not benefitted from these gains, increasing the gap between them and the rest of the country’s population.
In Barsha’s community, it was common for girls not to enroll in school or drop out before secondary education, in many cases due to arranged marriages well before the current legal minimum age of 20. Both Barsha’s mother and older sister got married and had children before they reached their mid-teens.
Barsha’s parents, neither of whom had been able to go to school, felt they could not afford sending her to school. Although public education in Nepal is free, there are costs for transport and uniform that families need to cover. Also, Barsha going to school would mean she was no longer able to help with household chores.
“We thought, ‘Who will look after the children and the goats?’,” says Barsha’s mother. “We just thought we needed her to stay home and help with the work around the house.”