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The Education Divide: Separate Schools versus Inclusive Systems for Transgender Individuals

The education of transgender or trans individuals in Pakistan has historically been disregarded and faced many obstacles as a result of systemic impediments, lack of awareness, and societal discrimination. Transgender people frequently face major obstacles when trying to get an education and have few options for pursuing higher education or career training. Within educational institutions, they experience discrimination, bullying, and social stigma, which often results in exclusion, harassment, and high dropout rates. Furthermore, inclusive policies and standards that specifically address the interests and concerns of transgender students are usually absent from educational institutions. Their lack of presence exacerbates their marginalisation and makes it difficult for them to get an education.

In Pakistan, a number of advocacy groups, human rights organisations, and activists are striving to create inclusive learning settings and increase public awareness of the rights of transgender people. In an effort to promote equality, the Supreme Court ruled in May 2018 that transgender children would not be subjected to harassment, discrimination, or other forms of mistreatment in schools. A transgender public school opened in Lodhran at the beginning of 2019, while a trans-education programme was also started in Multan. There, transgender people are making up for missed education by enrolling in nighttime sessions offered by the Accelerated Learning Programme. Furthermore, the Punjab School Education Department (SED) opened Lahore's first transgender school in December 2022 with the goal of educating and training trans people in various skills. In addition, the department has opened three transgender schools in Multan, Bahawalpur, and Dera Ghazi Khan in the past year. These educational establishments offered free education ranging from elementary to advanced secondary levels, in addition to teaching sewing, cooking, and cosmetic makeup.

Although it's a great initiative, it is still discriminatory. I think that introducing a parallel school system is not the answer to cater the harassment they face and thus, transgender students should be enrolled in ordinary schools just like other children. Furthermore, I think that giving them education that is mostly focused on skills like cooking, sewing, etc. is counterproductive to the goal because they should also have the opportunity to pursue jobs in business studies and stem fields if they want to. All children, including those with special needs, have the right to an education, and the government should make sure that they have access to all the resources needed for learning.

This is just my opinion, but do you guys think that establishing separate schools for transgender individuals would be more effective in addressing educational challenges they face, or should the focus be on creating a more inclusive and egalitarian education system without excluding marginalised groups?

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