TRANSEDUCATION – A HISTORIC PROJECT FOR THE EDUCATION OF TRANSGENDERS
Transgenders are one of the most marginalised segments of the society in Pakistan. They are shunned by their own families and have to face physical, sexual and psychological exploitation all throughout their lives. Doors of formal education and consequently decent livelihood therefore remain tightly shut on them.
OBLIGATION UNDER THE CONSTITUTION, LAW AND SDGs:
Section 25 A of the Constitution obligates the State to provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of five to sixteen years.
Section 8 of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2018 requires that there shall be no discrimination against Transgender Persons in acquiring admission in any educational institutions. Furthermore, the Government shall take steps to provide free and compulsory education to Transgender Persons as guaranteed under Article 25A of the Constitution.
Sustainable Development Goal 4 of the UN aims to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.”
- The Education Department, South Punjab, decided to attend to this hitherto important yet ignored issue. A pilot project, TRANSEDUCATION, has been launched in Multan with effect from July 7, 2021 whereby transgenders are being given formal education in evening classes at public schools by resorting to the Accelerated Learning Programme. It may be emphasized here that the ultimate goal is the mainstreaming of the transgenders; hence once amends are made for the lost classes through the Accelerated Learning Programme, the transgenders would be shifted to regular and age-appropriate classes/schools.
- Students for Accelerated Learning Programme have been divided in 4 groups, i.e. primary, elementary, secondary, and higher secondary. Depending upon the capacity and performance of students, more than one classes would be taught in a given year. In addition, vocational skills would also be imparted to make them financially independent. Tailoring, dress designing, make-up/beauty parlour services, cooking and such other vocations have been short listed for the purpose.
- The syllabus for the Accelerated Learning Programme is the one which has been prepared by the Literacyand Non-Formal Basic Education Department, Government of the Punjab in consultation with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and has been duly approved by the Punjab Curriculum and Textbook Board.
- Prior to the launch of project, geographical mapping was undertaken and 3 main pockets of habitation of transgenders were identified in Multan, i.e. Al-Quraish locality, in and around Gulgasht, and Vehari Chowk. The pilot project has been launched in Government Girls Comprehensive Higher Secondary School, Gulgasht Colony, Multan, close to one of the main pockets in the Gulgasht area.
- Extensive consultation was undertaken with the representatives of transgenders as well as all other stakeholders on all aspects of the project and planning was made accordingly.
- Classes are being held at 4 pm and beyond, i.e. well after the closure of regular morning school.
- Books, stationery items, uniform and shoes are being provided free of cost. It may be highlighted here that a different/distinct uniform has been designed for the transgenders. Similarly, unigender shoes have been selected as part of the uniform. Such is our attention to the details of the project!
- Free pick & drop service has also been arranged for further facilitation of the students.
- It is also being ensured that the educated persons among the transgenders are identified/traced and used as faculty in these classes in order to create earning opportunities for them and present them as role models/examples for the transgender students. Five such persons have already been selected – one of them having an M. Phil degree whereas another is BS Psychology. It goes without saying here that since these persons understand the psychology of transgenders better, their presence on faculty would be an asset for the Project. In addition, volunteer teachers from the same school are also teaching the students as and when required.
- A 3-days workshop (June 30-July 2, 2021) was held at the Education Department, South Punjab with the help of JICA to train the trainers as well as the aforementioned teaching staff in delivering Accelerated Learning Programme.
- Minister for School Education, Mr Murad Raas, has announced that after the successful launch and execution of the pilot project at Multan, it would be replicated all over the Punjab, initially at divisional level, and later at districts, as component of the Insaf Afternoon Schools Programme.
- In this connection, the second school is being launched at Lahore in early January, 2022.