In­dia cen­tre to get trans­gen­der school dropouts ready for jobs

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

A cen­tre for trans­gen­der school dropouts is set to open this week in In­dia to help ad­dress the chal­lenge of a lack of for­mal ed­u­ca­tion that forces them into low-paid jobs. The Sa­haj Al­ter­nate Learn­ing Cen­tre in the south­ern state of Ker­ala will ini­tially house 10 trans­gen­der stu­dents taught by vol­un­teer teach­ers and social work­ers.

“This is a cen­tre for those trans­gen­der stu­dents who had to drop out of school be­cause they were abused or be­cause they were kicked out by their fam­i­lies or school au­thor­i­ties,” said ac­tivist Vi­jayraja Mal­lika, a founder of the cen­tre. “We want to try and main­stream them, and in­te­grate them into so­ci­ety with a com­plete ed­u­ca­tion and some skills with which they can find a job and be in­de­pen­dent,” she told the Thom­son Reuters Foun­da­tion.

In­dia is es­ti­mated to have about 2 mil­lion trans­gen­der peo­ple. In 2014, the coun­try’s Supreme Court ruled that they had equal rights un­der the law, and granted le­gal sta­tus to the third gen­der. Along­side the right to marry and in­herit prop­erty, they are also el­i­gi­ble for quo­tas in jobs and ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions. But abuse and ex­ploita­tion are com­mon. Of­ten thrown out of home by their fam­i­lies, many lack a for­mal ed­u­ca­tion and are de­nied jobs, forced into sex work, beg­ging, or danc­ing at wed­dings to make ends meet.

Re­cently, there have been moves to ex­tend more ben­e­fits to the com­mu­nity, with Odisha state be­com­ing the first to give trans­gen­der peo­ple wel­fare ben­e­fits such as pen­sion. Bol­ly­wood is also lend­ing a hand, with 6 Pack Band, a pop band of trans­gen­der women fea­tured on the sound­track of a Bol­ly­wood movie this year. It was hard to find a prop­erty for the cen­tre in Ker­ala, and the founders were re­jected by more than 50 own­ers, Mal­lika said.

“This cen­tre is very im­por­tant be­cause de­spite the laws, social ac­cep­tance is still low and we are dis­crim­i­nated against by em­ploy­ers and our own fam­i­lies,” said trans­gen­der ac­tivist Kalki Subra­ma­niam, who is in­au­gu­rat­ing the school on Dec 30. The cur­ricu­lum will also in­clude some vo­ca­tional skills. “Ed­u­ca­tion is the only tool we have to ad­vance, to sup­port our­selves and to make some­thing of our­selves,” she said. — Reuters

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