This thesis addresses one of the major challenges facing education systems in developing countries: that of how to include all children, particularly those from relatively disadvantaged communities. It looks, in particular, at the example in Nepal of children from the Dalit communities, a group known to be disadvantaged and often marginalized within the formal education system. In particular, the study attempts to investigate the barriers that prevent the educational access, participation and progress of these students at the secondary level. This theme was investigated using an ethnographic approach, which examined people's life experiences and culture in natural settings (within schools and in their communities) using data collected through a series of interviews, and observations. It also involved an analysis of the relevant literature and policy documents. What was found is that the reasons for children from the Dalit community being disadvantaged are many and complex. Broadly, they can be summarized as being, first of all, about the difficulties of implementing national policies, particularly in terms of making resources available and providing effective monitoring, even though these policies are very positive about the inclusion of these children. Secondly, it is about the expectations and attitudes amongst the various Dalit communities as to what they want for their children and young people, which are to do with tradition and culture, life styles and economic circumstances. Thirdly, these two sets of factors together put pressure on the schools, which have to find a way of dealing with the challenge of diversity and various expectations. In this way, this research provides some new understanding of the issues that bear on the education of Dalit children. The knowledge gained through this research has practical implications for stakeholders: policy makers, teachers, and Dalit community members and social workers. It is argued that this would help to foster the improvement of policy initiatives and their effective implementation. It could also help to bring changes in the existing attitudes of teachers and Dalit communities that may have a positive impact on Dalit children's integration into education. Most importantly, it has brought a new way of looking at these issues that can be used to inform public debate.The study illustrates the use of a methodology that might usefully be adopted by researchers carrying out research around similar themes in other developing countries. It might also be the case that the barriers that have been identified in Nepal would represent useful starting points for such research.