Kalpana Sunuwar is the pride of the Dalit community in her village, most of whom cannot go to school because they can't afford to. But 11-year-old Kalpana works every morning and evening near the Seti River breaking boulders to make gravel to earn enough money to pay her way through school. Working side by side with her mother near the riverside, Kalpana also contributes her savings to augment her family's income. Earning Rs 800 a month, she manages to buy textbooks, pens and other stationery. "I give the remaining money to my mother," says Kalpana.
Sometimes, she has no time to finish her homework, but the teacher doesn't understand and spanks her. More than half the Dalits in Dipayal, especially girls, can't afford to go to school. Not a single girl out of 100 Dalit families in Dipayal has completed school. Even if the children get the opportunity to study, they are unable to concentrate and continue schooling. "Children go through so much mental and physical pressure that they won't get the chance to progress in life," says Kumar Tailor, a Dalit activist from Doti.