By Varissara Charassangsomboon
The government hopes the quota will help reduce dropout rates in higher education.
The state of Kerala in India has set quotas for transgender students in higher education institutes to tackle high dropout rates.
Earlier this month, the state’s Higher Education Department issued a new government order for all universities to reserve two spots for transgender students in every course.
Transgender people in India face daily challenges in almost every aspect of life. 45% of Kerala’s transgender students drop out before high school because of “harassment, gender-related negative expression and unavailability of educational special reserved quota/reservation.” This disproportionally high dropout rate in turn contributes to only 11.6% of transgender adults having regular jobs.
Students who do make it to college face more challenges. “Due to societal issues these students often have to discontinue their studies or to join other academic institutions after an academic year or after the admission process is closed,” the government of Kerala explains in a statement.
Many are optimistic of the new government order. “This will empower transgender students to conquer many heights. Often they are forced to discontinue their studies midway. It will also help them be open about their identity and rub shoulders with everyone,” activist Raga Ranjini tells Hindustan Times.
While other parts of India are still unaccepting, Kerala has been making continuous efforts to provide an inclusive society for people of every gender.
It is the home to India’s first school for transgender dropouts .It was also the first Indian state to have a transgender policy that provides recognition and protection of the transgender community and to organise a state-level transgender sports meet.
However, while it has made progress over the years, Kerala still has a way to go; discrimination and violence are still very much a part of transgenders’ everyday lives. According to a study by the Central University of Kerala, only 13% of them rate their quality of life as ‘good’ while 35% marked ‘poor’.