The boarding school which will be in Kochi has students from across the transgender community, writes Neha Pant
Transgender activists, Vijayaraja Mallika, Maya Menon and Faisal CK have announced that on 30th December, India will inaugurate its first boarding school for transgender community in Kochi. Called the Sahaj International School, it will be inaugurated by the transgender rights activist and artist Kalki Subramaniam.
An initiative of TransIndia Foundation, it will be led by six transgenders working with the same institution. The school will initially accommodate 10 students, which currently include a disabled person and a migrant. They will study under the National Open School System. Speaking at a press conference, Mallika said, the school has a few sponsors for the initial months but they are planning to seek financial help from the government, “after proving its worthiness.”
The school will start from a space given by a Christian organisation on contract, Christian organisation pro-life sector and National Open School have both extended their support to the venture. Mallika also said the aim of transgender school is to provide transgenders security, salvation and sustainability.
According to the Indian Census (2011), there are around 4.9 lakh transgenders in the country. Census data also reveals that this community has low literacy levels, only 46 per cent transgenders are literate, compared to 74 per cent literacy in the general population. This community comes under the category “disadvantage group” defined by the Right to Education Act. It means these children will be eligible for 25 per cent reservation under the economically weaker section (EWS) and disadvantaged student’s category for admission. Yet the reality is far from theory and many are shunned from school, so the importance of initiatives like the Sahaj International cannot be stressed enough.
Although, ever since the Supreme Court of India gave a landmark judgment declaring transgenders as the “third gender,” things have been looking up for the community. In this one year alone, India has seen its first transgender police inspector, college principal, mayor, taxi service, modelling agency, transgender shelter and even a music band.