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India’s first transgender school opened in Kochi on Friday. The school, named Sahaj International, was inaugurated by transgender activist, writer and actor Kalki Subramaniam at Thrikkakara in Kerala’s Ernakulam district. This alternative learning centre works in collaboration with National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS). The school, the first of its kind in the country, is expected to go a long way in ensuring equal opportunities for transgenders who have dropped out from school. The new learning centre will help them continue their education and appear for Class X and XII examinations.
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“Today is an important day, a historical day, historical time… An important day, time we are opening a learning center for transgenders. Nowhere in India it has been initiated so far. That way this will be the pioneer for many other organisation in different states, a model to follow,” Kalki said.
“The most improtant tool for the underprivileged, discriminated marginalised, oppressed community is education, because education brings light, knowledge, truth and confidence.”
“Education brings the path to the beautiful life, because transgender people like me, we are abandoned by our families. Most of our biological parents don’t accept us and because of this reason most of us are left on the street and forced to beg and do sex work. This has to change if we have to change the destiny of those people who were abandoned by their families and who had lost opportunity to get educated,” Kalki said.
Lauding the organisers, district collector Muhammad Y. Safeerulla said such initiatives will help end discrimination and ensure gender justice. He said the administration will extend all support for the welfare of the transgenders.
Training for soft skills, stitching, organic farming, oration, personality development will be given to students. V S Raveendran, regional director of NIOS, said the alternate learning centre for transgender community will soon be a special accredited institution of NIOS.
The transgender school is headed by six transgenders and a woman under the Transgender Foundation. “The school will initially start with 10 students including a migrant and a differently abled transgender. There will be a pool of 60 trainers which includes teachers, social workers, doctors and engineers to support the educationally disadvantaged to strengthen their community’s social status,” said Vijayaraja Malika, the driving force behind this pioneering institution.
The transgenders had great difficulty in finding a place to start the school in the city. The organisers said most building owners had refused to give them space to start the school. The school became a reality after a Christian organisation, CMC Vimala Province, leased out a rent free building situated in a 1.5 acres plot in Thrikkakara.
Thrikkakara Municipality chairperson K K Neenu said it as a proud moment in her life as the country’s first transgender alternate school is opened in her municipality. Thrikkakara MLA P.T. Thomas also spoke.