In a move being lauded as a progressive step towards inclusive education, the Kerala state government has decided to allot seats for transgender persons in colleges.
The Higher Education department issued a government order on Tuesday, stating that two additional seats would be allotted for transgender persons in all courses.
The circular by Additional Secretary MG Ranjith Kumar, has been issued to the Director of Collegiate Education and the Registrars of a number of universities including CUSAT, Calicut University, Kerala University, Mahatma Gandhi University, Sree Sankara University of Sanskrit and Thunchathezhuthachan Malayalam University.
"The government is pleased to sanction two additional seats in all courses in Universities and affiliated Arts and Science colleges exclusively for admitting transgender students subject to fulfillment of qualification," reads the order.
The special order was issued in the wake of recommendation by the Social Justice Department, seeking to reserve seats for transgender persons in colleges across Kerala.
Praveen Nath, one of the three students who approached the Social Justice Department last month, told TNM that he had applied for BA English course at Maharaja's College. "Although there is no legal issue in giving us seats, the college was not quite willing to. In the absence of a government order, they weren't much open about accommodating us. This is when we sought a meeting with Minister KK Shylaja and after discussions, now the department has issued an order."
"Due to societal issues, these students often have to discontinue their studies or join other academic institutions after an academic year or after the admission process is closed," reads the order.
Sharing the news of the development, Queerala, the community-based organisation for Malayali LGBTIQ people, noted that this was a step towards inclusive education. Three transgender students who could not secure admission in Maharaja's college in Ernakulam based on merit, approached the transgender justice board, paving way for the government order.
"Higher Education Department of Kerala issues a GO (government order) asking all Higher Educational Institutions in the state to reserve two seats, for all courses across colleges and Universities , for Transgender Students. A few transgender students, who had applied for various courses in Ernakulam Maharajas College, couldnâ€™t get through the merit based admission process. They then approached the state Social Justice Department, which along with other departments initiated this major step towards inclusive education," Queerala posted on Facebook.