After Kerala and Uttar Pradesh, now the time has come for Maharashtra to take its first step to inclusivity. Mumbai opened its first school for trans people, Kinnar Vidhyalaya, in the suburban Vasai; two hours away from the city.
The inauguration happened on June 25th and has already enrolled 25 students. The students who have signed up are of an age ranging from 5 to 50 years.
Mehandi Ali’s Brainchild:
The brave mind behind Kinnar Vidhyalaya is Mehandi Ali. Ali is a trans person who is extremely passionate about education; but was denied the opportunity because of sexual orientation.
Ali also spoke about how unfortunate it is to see the trans community being discriminated to the Education World; even after the Supreme Court recognized them as the third gender in 2014.
“The bullying and discrimination faced at school results in people from the third gender dropping out of school. Here they will be able to focus on learning without being laughed at. There are many educated members in the transgender community who aren’t getting jobs in private firms. I would like to encourage corporates to be open to hiring transgender people,” added Ali.
The Plan Began Four Years Ago:
The plan to open up a school for the trans community has been under work for the past four years now. Mehandi was eventually able to begin the work on Kinnar Vidhyalaya after the project received a green signal; a feat achieved because of the unwavering support from Mahashakti Charitable Trust (SMCT), a non-govermental organisation, and many other government officials. After much delay, the land on which the school now stands today has been given by SMCT.
“We believe education is the key to an equitable society. While we are working on creating a suitable curriculum etc., up to grade V, we are going to keep it flexible to ensure sustained interest. Later we want to extend classes till matriculation; so that the students can get a basic degree for themselves. Though we will hire more teachers as and when needed, our focus is on getting students to interact with our guest lecturers; experts from various fields, who can motivate our students to function successfully in real world situations. In terms of infrastructure, we hope to gather enough momentum in the project to build a residential hostel at a later date,” said the general secretary of SMCT, Vishal Bhagat to Education World.
Kinnar Is Open For All Students:
Although primarily built for students from the trans community, Kinnar Vidhyalaya also keeps its doors open for other students; such as the ones from an economically weaker sections of the society. And especially for those from the school’s surrounding neighbourhood.
With an aim to make the students self-reliant and independent, the school has incorporated vocational guidance and many skill development workshops; on different tasks such as waste management, interior decoration, beauty and handicrafts among the other subjects.
Other Schools For The Trans Community In India:
Kinnar Vidhyalaya might be a first of its kind school for the trans community in Maharashtra. However, several attempts have been made to open educational institutes for the trans community is other states.
Back in 2016, Kerala government gave the green signal to open Sahaj International; a residential school for people from trans community in Thrikkakara, Kochi. But the students of this school failed to raise interest and follow the National Open School system. The school building is now transformed into a hostel for trans employees of government institutions.
In a similar manner, efforts to lay the foundation for India’s first university entirely for the trans community in Uttar Pradesh are in progress. The plan was to open the school in 2019; by the Akhil Bhartiya Kinnar Seva Trust in Kushinagar district. This plan was laid out in 2019, and is still awaiting approval.