University education enables people to have better socio-economic return, engage in critical reflection of political affairs, social practices, and inequalities which subsequently strengthens democracy. The educational opportunities for disadvantaged people help them to break the vicious cycle of poverty, marginalization, and discrimination by enabling them to improve the social and economic status. The Government of Nepal has enacted the National Higher Education (HE) Policy, but it lags ensuring equitable opportunities for the marginalized community, particularly the Dalit community. Despite the constitutional commitment to provide equitable opportunities for educational development, Dalits who comprise above 13% population have been facing multitudes of exclusion in HE opportunities. Venanzi’s social exclusion perspective has been used to analyze the underrepresentation of Dalits in HE. The ethnocentrism-historically developed ethnic perspective manifested by the National Code of Conduct of Nepal in 1854; the discursive formation-micro-stories that explained the derogatory origin of Dalits and the hegemonic discourse-subtle form of power perpetrated by non-Dalit in system implementation curtail Dalit’s equitable participation in HE. Consequently, Dalits fail to move upward to the socioeconomic status which has impacted the overall development of the country. Mass advocacy and awareness campaign to deconstruct hierarchy-based caste system, data/evidence-based gender and social inclusion policy, increased participation of Dalits in decision-making positions, exploration of caste-related issues through periodic academic research and enactment of subsequent actions, inclusion of Dalit-related issues in HE curriculum, and arranging alternative education for geographically excluded Dalit community may enable Dalits to get HE.
Key words: Equity, higher education, social exclusion, historicity, Dalit.
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