Educating Dalit Lawyers Update: Students have started school!

Educating Dalit Lawyers Update: Students have started school!

Thank you to everyone in the NYF Community for generously supporting the launch of Phase 1 of the Caste Equality Project—Educating Dalit Lawyers!

We are proud to announce that our first group of 15 Educating Dalit Lawyers (EDL) scholarship recipients started classes on Monday, February 27th, 2023.

About the Students & the Law Schools

Our EDL students are attending the top three law campuses in Nepal, each affiliated with Tribhuvan University. Specifically, five students are attending Nepal Law Campus in Kathmandu (the best, most competitive law school in Nepal). Five are attending National Law College in Kathmandu, and five are attending Prithvi Narayan Campus in Pokhara. These colleges offer excellent human rights law courses.

This year, a total of 1,152 prospective law students earned a passing score on the rigorous entrance exam. The Tribuhuvan University-affiliated law campuses only offer 280 seats per year, which go to the highest scorers. Our students have worked tremendously hard for their places in law school. We are honored to be supporting their goals of providing much-needed legal services to their communities!

Student Profiles

Two of our students are from the Madhesi subcaste (often identified as the most oppressed of the Dalits), with three other subcastes also represented. We have students from all seven of Nepal’s provinces: Lumbini (5), Madhesh (3), Bagmati (1), Sudurpashchim (2), Province-1 (1), Gandaki (2), & Karnali (1).

Nine of the students are brand new law students, and six had already begun law school before we began offering our scholarship. Of these six, two are in their second semester, three are in their third semester, and one is in his fifth semester.

Ten of our students are men and five are women. This was a surprising outcome, because two-thirds of our original group were women. The nuanced challenges facing Dalit women is just one of the areas we are determined to understand better in the coming years.


Ravi comes from Nepal’s eastern plains region, where Dalit families often have limited job opportunities due to illegal untouchability practices. Growing up, he witnessed tremendous injustices towards Dalit people within his own village, including accusations of witchcraft and humiliating public punishments.

After his brother married a young woman from a higher-caste family, their home original village expelled Ravi’s family. The woman’s relatives filed a legal case accusing Ravi’s brother of human trafficking. Their family went into debt combatting this unjust charge, and Ravi became keenly aware of how little access they had to legal support. Having no one to turn to for guidance during this time was terrifying for the entire family.

Now Ravi hopes to become a public prosecutor focused on safeguarding the rights and interests of the Dalit community.

He is thrilled to be receiving the Educating Dalit Lawyers scholarship and living in a shared EDL apartment near campus. “Living together with other friends from this group is fun, and it has also helped me in my studies. We discuss various issues and topics, which enhances our understanding and clarity,” says Ravi.


Sushma grew up facing the especially unjust treatment Dalit women experience every day. Her childhood was full of horrifying instances of violence against women and girls from her community. This unfortunately includes personal experiences which she has only just begun to share with anyone.

This mistreatment by all parts of society caused Sushma to doubt her own worth. She grew up feeling isolated and never truly safe.

In school, Sushma learned about Nepal’s constitutional provisions regarding the rights of Dalits and women. But she knew first-hand that violations were being suffered every day. She hopes to specialize in criminal law, ensuring these rights are honored by Nepal’s legal system and making society safer for future generations.

Being surrounded by other EDL scholars has already given Sushma a new sense of safety and purpose. When Sushma put on her formal uniform for the first day of college, she says, “I felt an amazing sense of accomplishment, as if I had already become a lawyer. This opportunity is extremely valuable and I want to utilize this to do my best.”

*Names changed to protect the privacy of our students.

Next Steps

Our scholarship team is working with Dignity Initiative to refine our application and selection process for the next group. We expect to be launching our next call for applications in our Educating Dalit Lawyers program in June 2023!

We are also preparing to launch K-12 educational programs in the Dalit communities living in eastern Nepal’s Saptari District—the groups of Dalits facing some of the worst multifaceted, complex forms of discrimination, including massive educational neglect.

Our team is exited to share more about these new programs in the coming months.


NYF Launches Phase I of Caste Equality Project: Educating Dalit Lawyers

NYF Launches Phase I of Caste Equality Project: Educating Dalit Lawyers

We are so thrilled to officially announce the launch of Educating Dalit Lawyers (EDL), the first phase of NYF’s Caste Equality Project! Educating Dalit Lawyers is an enriched law school scholarship for graduating Dalit high schoolers aiming to become human rights lawyers.

In partnership with Dignity Initiative, a Dalit-led NGO based in Kathmandu, NYF will provide incoming law school students with full-ride scholarships through five years of law school at some of Nepal’s best colleges. We’re also excited to provide accommodation and food stipends; extracurricular, mentorship, and leadership opportunities; and internship placement support.

As of now, we have received over 100 applications from hopeful students from all seven of Nepal’s provinces. Applicants come from a strong mix of male and female candidates, with individuals coming from a wide variety of Dalit subcastes.

Our team will select 20 students who will come to Kathmandu to prepare to take Nepal’s rigorous law school entrance exam. The top 15 students will receive the full scholarship.

Your Support

Join us in launching NYF’s most daring program yet! NYF is currently raising funds in support of Educating Dalit Lawyers. One year of support for each student in this program costs approximately $4,000. To support these determined students, please donate now.


July 2022 – Testing Prep
20 promising students are selected from applicants from all over Nepal and brought to Kathmandu to attend prep classes for the competitive law school entrance test. All expenses are paid.

Aug. 2022 – Law School Entrance Exams

Sept. 2022 – Selection & Mentorship
The top 15 students are selected for the full 5-year scholarship. As they receive acceptance notification from law schools, NYF facilitates housing, enrollment, and other logistical matters. Courses begin. Each student is matched with a human rights lawyer mentor.

Winter 2022 – First Semester!
As classes get underway, NYF works with Dignity Initiative to organize special program features like advocacy trainings, leadership activities, workshops, celebrations, and more. These activities dovetail with law school, enhancing it without interrupting it.

Spring 2023 – A New Start
NYF releases the 2nd year’s call for applications across the country, committing to select an additional 15 law school students.

Summer 2023 – First Annual Dalit Law School Student Conference
NYF, Dignity Initiative, and our scholarship recipients hold a networking conference for Dalit law school students across Kathmandu, creating an opportunity to make connections, present learnings, share personal stories, and more while practicing skills like public speaking.

2027 – Graduation & the Bar Exam
NYF’s first group of 15 lawyers completes their final year of law school. Each graduate is matched with a paying internship opportunity at a local law firm, allowing them to gain experience while preparing for Nepal’s Bar Exam. NYF also provides community-based legal awareness workshops, including fieldwork in Dalit communities experiencing significant hardship. NYF funds all expenses associated with preparing for and taking the Bar Exam at the end of this period.

Spring 2028 – First Graduates Now Practicing Law!

Questions about this project?