Navigating exclusionary-inclusion: school experience of Dalit EFL learners in rural Nepal


  • Kamal Raj Devkota Tribhuvan University



Modern schooling is often expressed as one of the key social dynamics of development and modernisation in Nepal. Ideally, school policies and pedagogies are said to embrace inclusion, socialisation and democratisation of young children irrespective of their class, caste, gender and ethnicity. The state’s signatory promises in national/international conventions and platforms often mention social inclusion as the most important expected goal of formal schooling. However, such an understanding is often undermined by persistent educational inequalities and differences which, in turn, underline emergent social, cultural and economic forces that exacerbate social exclusion of many schoolchildren. English Language Teaching (ELT), one of the modern education specificities in the national educultural space, is intricately connected to such inequalities, and is the de facto cause of the enforcing social exclusion of socially, culturally and economically marginalised Dalit children, despite the fact that they attend schools and English as a Foreign Language (EFL) classrooms as the “principled inclusion” advocates. Amid this paradox, the main purpose of this paper is to examine exclusionary-inclusion in relation to modern schooling and English learning in rural settings. Employing critical ethnography, this paper examines how modern schooling, particularly in relation to English teaching/learning including English-as-a-medium-of-instruction (EMI), perpetuates social exclusion of the Dalit schoolchildren. The analysis of the data derived from qualitative interviewing, participant observation and learner diaries, suggests to us that policy-practice ambiguities and complicated intersection of existing caste-class-gender disparities with English Learning Opportunities (ELOs) are the principal domains areas that enforce “exclusionary-inclusion” among the marginalised Dalit children in community, school and EFL classroom spaces in rural Nepal.