In Kerela, CPI(M) led LDF government’s Higher Education Department recently passed an order sanctioning two additional seats for the admission of trans students across all the courses in universities and Arts and Science colleges in the state as a step towards uplifting and empowering the trans community.
The order came after the Social Justice Department recommended and forwarded a request for issuing a special order for reserving seats for trans students.
This step is being hailed as a progressive step towards inclusive education. In resonance with the literary mission, and in an endeavour to better the 93.91% literacy rate of Kerala, this step comes as an opportunity and encouragement for people to whom education had been previously made accessible largely due to social stigma.
A recent survey conducted under the Literacy Mission found that around 50% of the trans community has a monthly income of ₹ 1,000 or less. Out of the employed community, while 28.53% earn between ₹1,000 – ₹5,000, 19.46% of the members of the community earn between ₹ 5,000 – ₹10,000 per month. And, a total of 20.35% of trans people who were surveyed were found unemployed.
Another study by a PhD scholar from Panjab University found high levels of dropout rates among the trans community in colleges and schools, due to social discrimination, financial constraints and the lack of family support.
Such surveys and studies highlight the lacunae, and hence this order passed by the Kerela government is laudable for its inclusive spirit and social development. The Kerala government has, in the past as well, introduced a policy where it would provide shelter homes for trans people who would join its special literacy programme.
There are a few more examples where state governments have taken similar initiatives to benefit minority communities in an attempt to end centuries of social stigma. The Karnataka government has also passed a similar order in October, 2017. In June, 2016, Odisha became the first state to provide food grains, pension, health care, education and housing benefits to the trans community for their empowerment.
The LGBTQ community faces discrimination on a daily basis, from jobs to education, which results in high dropout rates because of constant peer pressure and feelings of social seclusion and exclusion. This also results in high rates of unemployment, altering not just the social, but financial state of the economy. While society’s ignorance and stigma acts as a hindrance in the path to their development and literacy, this order is a welcome change.
Right to education is a fundamental right of every human being born on the Indian soil. No child should be deprived of their right to education because of any bias – be it gender, caste, class, colour, orientation, or choice of living. After all, “Padhega India tabhi toh badhega India”.