Escalating the moves to ensure the inclusion of transgenders in the mainstream society, Kerala government has allotted two additional seats for transgender students in Universities and affiliated arts and science colleges across the state. The Higher Education Department in its order on Tuesday stated that two additional seats would be allotted for transgender students in all courses.
“Social Justice Department has recommended and forwarded the request for issuing a special order for reserving seats for Transgender Students for various courses in Universities and affiliated Arts and Science Colleges,” the order read.
Due to societal issues, the orders say, “these students often have to discontinue their studies or join other academic institutions after an academic year or admission process is closed.”
Read More: Kerala Sets an Example Yet Again, Forms First-ever Cooperative Society for Transgenders
As per the state’s Transgender Policy 2015 document, 58 percent of the Transgender students drop out before completing 10th grade. Apart from this, 24 percent of Transgender students drop out even before the completion of 9th grade. The reason varies from severe harassment that makes studies impossible to gender-related negative experiences at school. The document furnished that among the students who had to leave school due to harassment, nearly half were having negative experiences at home. In fact, the lack of special educational quota or reservation for transgender students was also there among the listed reasons.
“In the above circumstances, Government are pleased to sanction two additional seats in all courses in Universities and affiliated Arts and Science Colleges exclusively for admitting transgender students subject to the fulfillment of qualification,” said the order that has been issued to Director of Collegiate Education and registrars of the universities across the state including Kerala University, Mahatma Gandhi University, CUSAT, Calicut University, Sree Sankara University of Sanskrit and Thunchath Ezhuthachan Malayalam University.
Read More : Resurgent Public Sector, Lakhs of New Jobs Mark Two Years of LDF Govt
The state, that has had a Transgender Policy in place since 2015, has moved one step closer to its policies for improving the social status of the transgenders. The state’s
transgender policy simply calls for a society where men, women and transgenders have equal access to capabilities, economic opportunities, assets and services, right to dignity and freedom from violence and right to expression.
As part of the series of programmes eyeing at the upliftment of the transgender community, in January 2018, Kerala State Literacy Mission Authority (KSLMA) had rolled out a continuous education programme “Samanwaya”. Under Samanwaya, so far, many from the transgender community registered for class 4, 7, 10 and higher secondary equivalent courses across the state.
By the end of June this year, shelter homes and scholarships have been introduced for the candidates under Samanwaya. So, now, they can enjoy a safe stay at shelter homes till the completion of the course.
It will enable them to continue their education which they may have had to abandon half-way due to social ostracisation, said state Health Minister KK Shylaja while inaugurating the scholarship and shelter home scheme.
The doors of higher education have been opened up to thousands through the state government's decision to make the mission’s higher secondary equivalency course on a par with Plus-Two, she said.
Even before the Supreme Court of India had recognised the “third gender”, the state’s Department for Social Justice had laid foundation stones for a Gender Park in Kozhikode. Gender Park, a space that brings together state, academia and civil society to a common platform on all gender-related issues, from research and training to ideation and cultural enquiry, is the first space of its kind in the world and aims to become the premier convergence point for gender-related activities in the region.
The policies to thrash the social stigmas on transgenders spread not only in the education sector, but in all other sectors too. The current Left Democratic Front Government in its first budget, in 2016, itself announced a pension to the transgenders above 60 years of age. From pension scheme, the government’s policies have now reached at the additional reservation for transgender students covering many other moves including health schemes for transgenders, the formation of cooperative societies exclusively for the community, jobs for transgenders in Kochi Metro Rail Limited, etc. among others.