Pune: Lack of awareness about education among transgenders has led to only one transgender taker for Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) programmes, despite the programmes being free for members of the community.
IGNOU had announced the fee exemption in July and also extended the admission deadline by a month. "We received only one application till August 28, which was the extended date. We had approached several NGOs working towards the welfare of the transgender community in the city to spread the word. We will soon proceed towards admissions for the January session from October," said Masood Parveez, Senior Regional Director of IGNOU regional centre, Pune.
"We have planned to conduct seminars with the help of these NGOs and bring more transgenders into education. We are hoping for a good number of enrollments for the January session," Parveez added.
When Sakal Times approached members of the transgender community in the city, it learnt that there is lack of awareness about education and online courses like the ones IGNOU offers.
Shivani Koti is a dancer and having completed Std XII in commerce, wants to pursue Fine Arts. Koti was unaware about e-learning options she can pursue from home. "One of the factors why we resist education is fear of acceptance by peers in college or school. We have a mind block. Hence, not many are free to approach educational institutions," said Koti.
Another transgender on condition of anonymity said, "Many have been to school till at least Std III or IV. There are many reasons to discontinue education at a young age like financial instability and no acceptance in school. So we are not in a position to value the importance of education. Moreover, we earn sufficiently to lead basic livelihood and hence understanding the requirement of education is not there."
Transgender activist Saloni Dalve said, "There are many who want to pursue education. The only possibility for such a scenario can be lack of awareness. It is necessary to bring community members together and guide them through workshops that enlighten them about the importance of education."