Mumbai- In a commendable move to promote inclusivity and education, the Maharashtra state government has called upon all public universities to cover the full tuition fees for transgender students. The initiative aims not only to encourage their enrollment in university departments but also in affiliated colleges. However, while this step is considered a positive one, activists emphasize that the state still has a considerable distance to cover in achieving comprehensive inclusivity.
During a state-level review meeting at Dr. Homi Bhabha State University recently, Higher and Technical Education Minister Chandrakant Patil appealed to Vice-Chancellors and department officials to provide free education to transgender individuals. In a unanimous decision, the Vice-Chancellors agreed to implement this directive. The overarching goal is to foster a conducive environment within institutions, ensuring that transgender students feel welcome and supported. Government officials mentioned that a circular or government resolution, complete with guidelines, will be issued soon to formalize these efforts.
One Vice-Chancellor highlighted that creating inclusive campuses for transgender students aligns with the perspective plan's objectives. Universities are expected to conduct gender sensitization programs to enhance safety and comfort for transgender students. The plan includes provisions for basic facilities such as gender-appropriate toilets and financial assistance to support transgender students' education. Vice-Chancellors welcomed these steps, emphasizing the need to proactively eliminate discrimination on campuses.
Sridevi, one of the first transgender students officially recorded as graduating from Mumbai University, commended the initiative while acknowledging the need for further progress. Sridevi, currently pursuing post-graduation at the university's Institute of Distance and Open Learning (IDOL), suggested that Maharashtra should follow the lead of southern states like Kerala, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu, which already have inclusive policies for transgender education.
Expressing the challenges faced by the transgender community in accessing education and employment, Sridevi called for dedicated study centers for transgender individuals within universities. Furthermore, he stressed the importance of sensitization programs for both the general public and the transgender community to address societal misconceptions.
The review meeting, held to assess universities' preparedness for the implementation of the National Education Policy (NEP), covered various aspects, including NAAC accreditation, skill-oriented courses, and the grading system under the NEP. The government also encouraged institutions, particularly NSS cadets, to initiate campaigns for voter registration and create online content for those who have left formal education but wish to continue learning.