Education
Kerala State Literacy Mission set to incorporate transgender people in its education programme.
Pic from Transgender Sports

With the Kerala State Literacy Mission, incorporating transgender people in its continuing education programmes for tenth and higher secondary classes, scores of transgender persons, who had to drop out midway owing to social exclusion or financial hurdles, are all set to return to the world of learning. 

A survey was conducted through the Sexual and Gender Minority Federation (SGMF), a collective working for transgender people in the state, to find out the number of school dropouts among them. 

The survey began in March and the SGMF handed over the survey report to Literacy Mission on May 30. The idea of the Mission is to arrange separate classes for transgender persons in districts, where the number of learners are more than 15. 

The classes for tenth and plus one classes will commence on June 5. The classes for students of tenth will be held in Kollam, Kozhikode, Malappuram and Thrissur districts. For higher secondary, classes will be held in Kollam, Kozhikode, Kottayam and Thiruvananthapuram.

As per the survey report, the number of aspirants to continue their studies are more than 100 in almost all districts, except in Wayanad and Idukki, where the visibility of transgender people are comparatively less. 

“Most of them had left studies between the fourth and the seventh standard. Those who won’t be able to directly join the tenth and higher secondary classes will be accommodated in the fourth and seventh equivalency programmes in due course. Registration for the tenth and plus two has to be done more or less simultaneously with the mainstream to complete the courses at the same time so that the students won’t lose a year for higher studies,” said Sreekutty, State President of SGMF. 

As per the official statistics, of the Social Justice Department of 2014, the number of transgender persons in the state are 4,000.“But that is not the correct figure, the total number is around 25,000 people. The census was also done by transgender persons. The visibility of the transgender people are still poor in the state. When we go and ask a father or a mother, they won’t admit there is a transgender child in their home. So for the census, as well as for the study of the literacy mission, we went to places where the visibility of transgender persons are high like parks and other public places,” Sreekutty added. 

She also said that inclusive education programme of the Literacy Mission is a welcome move as most of the other promises made by the government departments for the welfare of transgender persons still remain unfulfilled. “Most of the people whom we met for the study, revealed their wish to study secretly. They fear to reveal their identity to others for fear of getting insulted and isolated,” she said. 

State Literacy Mission is conducting equivalency programmes for fourth, seventh tenth and twelfth grade equivalency courses, for semi-literate and school dropout people irrespective of age. The tenth equivalency certificate of the Literacy Mission has been approved by the Kerala State Public Service Commission, which is conducting examinations to recruit employees of various government departments. 

The 12th grade certificate is an approved document for higher studies. 

Director State Literacy Mission P S Sreekala said that there was no hurdles from their part to accommodate transgender people in general classes. “The idea to conduct separate classes for them was born out of the fact that they fear insult by other people that forced them to leave school abruptly. The society’s attitude towards them is yet to change,” she said.

She added, “We got the survey report from all districts for the project and are consolidating the facts”. As many as 80,000 people are joining the various equivalency programmes of the Literacy Mission. In 1991, the state was declared the first state with 100% literacy in the country. In 2016 January, Kerala became the first state achieve 100% primary education