Anjana (name changed) has been attending the Kerala State Literacy Mission Authority (KSLMA)’s Class 10 equivalency classes for transgenders for the past 10 months. A hairstylist, Anjana says that employment opportunities are non-existent if one does not finish schooling at least. However, going for classes itself is a tall task for many transgenders. “Many of us have been thrown out of our homes. We do not get houses on rent. Some of us travel to far-off places only so that we can take rest and return to the city. Even if we have to go to study, we need a place to get ready. But there’s none to be had.”
Anjana and many other transgenders will now get an incentive to complete their education. The KSLMA has introduced scholarships for transgenders as part of the Samanwaya transgender continuing education project.
The mission will also set up shelter homes as part of the first-of-its-kind project so that transgenders who have had to abandon studies midway can put up safely and continue their education through equivalency courses from class 4 to the higher secondary level.
Literacy mission Director P.S. Sreekala says that during the survey for Samanwaya, 1,000 transgenders had expressed their interest in continuing their studies, but only 145 registered for the programme. Lack of a place to stay is a major reason for the low number of registrations. Attending the ongoing weekend classes is not easy even for those who have registered in the absence of a shelter.
To surmount the problem, the mission has decided to open, in the first phase, shelter homes in districts where the number of learners is high and special classes are conducted for them. The special classes are held in districts where the number of registered transgenders is high for any literacy course. At present, these include Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Pathanamthitta, and Alappuzha. Besides stay, food will be provided free of cost at the shelters.
There are also plans to launch some skill training for them at the shelters so that they can get a steady income in future, Ms. Sreekala says. In Thiruvananthapuram, there are 10 learners each in class 10 and 12 and in Kollam 20 and 15, respectively.
In Pathanamthitta, there are 25 learners in the higher secondary course, and in Alappuzha there are 10 learners in class 10. The mission, with financial support from the Social Justice Department, will also provide monthly scholarship of Rs. 1,000 for learners in equivalency courses from class 4 to class 10, and Rs. 1,250 for class 12 equivalency. The distribution of scholarships will be formally inaugurated by Minister for Social Justice K.K. Shylaja on June 28.