KP’s transgender people to get education scholarships

  • Advocacy group says scholarship launched to mainstream community, increase opportunities

ISLAMABAD: Blue Veins, a Peshawar-based women’s health advocacy group, has launched the educational scholarships for the transgender community of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) with the purpose to deal with the issues of discrimination, social stigma and exclusion and to increase the economic opportunities for the community members.

The support for this education scholarship is provided by the donation of the Blue Veins employees from their salaries and initially stats with Rs 200,000. Talking to Pakistan Today, Blue Veins Programme Coordinator Qamar Naseem said that they have decided to launch the scholarship in order to integrate transgender persons in the mainstream societal fabric.

He said that they would facilitate the transgender persons based on their needs and interests so they were encouraged and they complete their formal education or other courses. He said that they launched the scholarship today and it would be advertised so as the serious and spirants transgender could be admitted in the educational institutes.

“There is a strong urge in the community to fight for their rights but lack of education or no education actually is one of the recognised barriers to reclaim their space in the mainstream employment sector, social life, and cultural integration,” Qamar said. He said that there was no age limit for this fund and no education level limit, as any transgender person, even those who are in their primary grades, can avail this facility.

However, he said that only key criteria was that he/she has to be a serious and promising student/aspiring leader. He said that most of them were not serious who left their education half-way that was why they decided that 70% of the total fee would be provided to support education and course fee and the remaining would be paid by transgender themselves.

He said that around 45 transgender persons completed diplomas under the PM Youth Skill Development Programme and some of them even got positions. He said that there were a number of transgender people who are interested in language and computer courses. “We will facilitate the serious contenders only,” he said.

Farzana Jan

“Change will come only through if the transgender community is empowered and one of the key tools for empowerment is education. There is need to work on multiple initiatives that promote human rights, education, functional literacy including computer education and political education for the transgender community,” said Farzana Jan, president of the TransAction Alliance, a provincial alliance of transgender and intersex community.

Arzu Khan, a transgender activist, said that no formal education for the transgender people was popular in the Pakistani context. “They are deprived of family and school environment, transgender people discontinue their education and risk their future career opportunities.”

Paro Khan, a young transgender person from Peshawar, welcomed the scholarship, saying the inclusion of the transgender persons in an education setting was a big challenge. So this scholarship provides a unique opportunity for the transgender persons to learn and grow in the society as the equal citizen, Paro said.

Qasim said that to ensure the accountability and transparency, funds would be directly transferred to the educational institutes. Besides the employees of the Blue Veins, he said that they would run a campaign to identify people who would play their part in the programme so as to facilitate somehow the long-deprived community.