University Grant Commission (UGC) has proposed to introduce a special quota system in tertiary education to ensure higher education for third gender or transgender people (locally known as Hijras).
Besides, UGC has also recommended a separate special admission opportunity for physically and mentally challenged people in the university.
The commission has placed this recommendation to the government through its 46th annual report. UGC handed over the report to President Abdul Hamid on December 27 in 2020.
Different organisations of transgender people welcomed the commission’s proposal. They also urged the government to ensure all kinds of educational facilities for them from primary level.
“We are deprived of most of the facilities including education in the country. There is no opportunity of education for us in mainstream educational institutions including schools, colleges or universities,” Annyanna, a transgender person told Bangladesh Post.
Annyanna further said, “We obviously welcome the decision of quota system for transgender people in higher education. But, the government must ensure opportunity of education for us from the primary level. How will transgender people go to the higher level if they drop out from primary level?”
Different organisations working for transgender people thanked the UGC for keeping this proposal in their annual report.
Shale Ahmed, Executive Director of ‘Bandhu’, a social welfare society told Bangladesh Post, “It’s a groundbreaking decision. Transgender people are being deprived of education due to social bullying. If everyone considers them as normal people, there will be no problem. But the main problem is in our society. The attitude of our society needs to be changed.”
“In India, a transgender person ‘Sathyasri Sharmila’ enrolled her name as a lawyer in Bar Council of Tamil Nadu. If it is possible in our neighbouring country, why cannot we?” he added.
Ivan Ahmed, a leader of transgender community [Socheton Somaj Hijra Songho], said, “We have been deprived of social acceptance and rights for ages. There are no opportunities for education, job and others. We want to see the implementation of the recommendation of UGC soon.”
“If we have quota system, separate educational institutions and separate curriculum for us, we won’t be in the dark anymore. We will also move forward. We will be able to contribute in the development of the country,” she added.
The UGC has made 24 recommendations in its 46th annual report, including giving special opportunities for the education of transgender and physically and mentally disabled students.
Recommendation No. 22 of its annual report states that ensuring inclusive and equitable education for all is one of the goals of the government.
The government can take effective initiatives to set quotas to ensure educational opportunities for the third gender community, it says.
About the special quota for transgender, UGC Member Mohammad Alamgir told the Bangladesh Post, “Education is one of the basic rights for everyone of the country. In this context, transgender people have also this right. But, they have no access to the mainstream education. We must give them the opportunity of education. Otherwise, they will remain in dark for ages. Considering all these, the UGC has come forward to create educational opportunity for them.”
“If the government gives them special opportunity, they will also come to mainstream education. We are also trying in this regard,” he said, adding, “It will take time to implement. Besides, we have to arrange more discussion about it.”
According to a 2019 journal published by Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation (PKSF), there are no accurate statistics of the transgender population in Bangladesh.
According to the report of the non-governmental development organization ‘Manuser Jonyo Foundation’, the number of transgender in Bangladesh is over 24,000.
On the other hand, the Transgender Welfare Foundation claims that the number of transgender population in Bangladesh is about 12 lakh.
According to other sources, the number of transgender people in the country is around 10 thousand.
However, experts working for the rights of transgender people said that the number of transgender people in the country may be between 30 thousands to 1.5 lakh.