In a progressive step, IGNOU recently announced free education for transgenders.
The Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) recently announced free education for transgenders and while the move can lead to empowering the community and also opening up of various job opportunities, discrimination in schools needs to be worked on first, say people from the transgender community.
“Free education at the college level doesn’t matter because most transgenders drop out at the school level itself. They face sexual harassment and abuse and that’s why they give up on education quite early. When the basic education of a student is not strong, how will giving free education at the college level help, I can’t say,” says Kiran from Naz Foundation.
However, the move is going to be of great help for transgenders who feel the lack of job opportunities.
“Transgenders are denied jobs in most sectors and hence there is no possibility for them to go to college and pay college fees. Hence, free education is going to be a great opportunity for transgenders who look forward to completing their studies to get better jobs,” says Sowmya Gupta, a transgender.
Nitasha Biswas, another transgender, has completed her graduation in mass communication. While she has been privileged enough to get support from her family to be able complete her education, she feels that free education is definitely a “step towards tomorrow” for those who do not belong to economically sound families. “This is going to open a lot of doors for transwomen who will now be able to have a strong base for a better future. But I do feel the need for more employment opportunities for transgenders,” says Nitasha.
Nitasha further adds that there is a need for a strong body at the college level, which safeguards the rights of transgenders. “Just how ragging — which was a very common phenomenon in colleges earlier — ended up being considered a criminal offence, having a strong governing body, which caters to the rights and interests of transgenders will also be very helpful,” she says.