They say ‘education is the passport to the future’ but what happens when that access is denied to a few, based on their gender identity?
While there are countries like Spain, Sweden, Argentina and Canada that support the academic advancement of the transgender community, India still needs mass reforms.
But small initiatives like the one that Keshav Suri, the executive director of The Lalit Suri Hospitality Group, recently announced, in the way of scholarships for trans students, is being seen as a landmark step towards inclusive education.
Being offered at The Lalit Suri Hospitality School under the aegis of The Keshav Suri Foundation, a scholarship worth Rs 75,000 has been put in place. It is awarded to deserving candidates after a screening process and will cover the entire tuition fees.
The course being offered is a diploma in Food Production and Bakery that will last one and a half years. This year, three students were chosen namely Zainab Khan and Vansh from Delhi along with Afroz Khan from Mumbai.
“Education is a basic right and incredibly important to lead a respectful life. We wanted to help this marginalised community stand on their feet and with this scholarship, we hope some will earn a comfortable living. It will also remove phobia prevalent in society about transgender,” says Suri. Applications were opened both offline and online.
Any self-identified LGBTQ+ individual who had a minimum of a 12th class degree and is aged below 25 years could submit their candidature for the scholarship.
By next year, Suri aims to confer the scholarship upon 10 students. “We have been undertaking regular sensitisation sessions with the students at the school and have also invited gender experts to build a safe space before having queer students join in. The school aims to produce professionals with life skills such as integrity and honesty, and respect for every individual even if they are different from you,” he says.
Ironically, the only challenge was in finding students. With the shame attached to being a transgender, only a few mustered up the strength to reach out. Also, many didn’t have a school degree owing to discrimination, therefore they couldn’t apply for this graduate programme and then there were many above the age limit. But Suri continues to scout, and by next year, he says things will be more promising.
The journey towards an equal world
The applications will open next year for the batch of 2020.
Aspirants should write to firstname.lastname@example.org. Shortlisted candidates will receive a call and post interviews, selections will be made.