Pakistan to open two more transgender schools after success in Lahore

08:30 PM | 22 Apr, 2018
Pakistan to open two more transgender schools after success in Lahore
LAHORE - Pakistan will soon extend the scope of education for transgender persons in two major cities after the success of the country’s first-ever school in Lahore.

The Gender Guardian, the first school for transgender persons in any Islamic state, was launched at an event at the Alhamra Open Air Theatre of the Gaddafi Stadium in the Punjab capital last week.

Now, with an aim to provide 12 years of academic education (from primary level to higher secondary level), two more schools for transgender community will be opened in Karachi and Islamabad soon.

Asif Shahzad, the founder of The Gender Guardian, says that school in Lahore having a faculty of 15 members, has started giving education to around 40 students of the transgender community.

The brainchild of non-governmental organisation Exploring Future Foundation (EFF), it also offers vocational training focusing on fashion, beauty as well as graphic design.

“We will be providing skill-based training and curriculum to the transgender community that has enrolled with us,” said EFF managing director Moizzah Tariq.

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The plan is to provide a diploma course so that the students will be able to either work or set up their own businesses, and the NGO will facilitate them with both procedures.

There is no age limit for admission in The Gender Guardian, located in Lahore’s Defence Housing Authority (DHA).

In an interview with Associated Press of Pakistan, Asif Shahzad said that most of the transgender-students had shown their interest in fashion industry including learning about cosmetics, fashion designing, embroidery and stitching while some had also shown interest in graphic designing and culinary skills.

“We designed our courses for them keeping in view of their interest”, he added.

"So far 40 transgender persons have been enrolled in the school. This is the only such school in any Islamic country in the world," he claimed.

Transgender people face discrimination in Pakistan and many struggle to find employment. Some are forced into begging, dancing or prostitution to earn money.

Punjab province has 64.4 per cent of the country’s transgender population with 6,709 people registered in the category.

However, official sources from social welfare department said that Lahore and its adjoining areas had a population of roughly 30,000 transgender people.

The country’s Senate had unanimously approved a bill on March 7, 2018 for the protection of rights of transgender people, empowering them to determine their own gender identity.

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