NCERT’s guide to gender-inclusive education

NEW DELHI: NCERT in a rather astounding move released training material for teachers titled Inclusion of Transgender Children in School Education: Concerns and Roadmap. The material touches upon the concepts of gender identity and expression, heterosexuality, homosexuality, asexuality, bisexuality, trans-negativity, and various others, through a glossary with minute details. It provides meanings of terms that people use to identify themselves who lie on the nonbinary spectrum like gender-fluid, transfeminine, transmasculine, and agender.

The material is available online for free download on the NCERT website for anyone who is interested to delve into the project. The coordinator of the project is Dr. Poonam Agrawal, Professor, and former Head of the Department of Gender Studies, NCERT.

 “The inclusion of all children is part of our mandate as an institution, so we decided to prepare training material that would sensitise teachers and teacher educators about the lived experiences, achievements, struggles, and aspirations of transgender and gender-nonconforming children. To make this happen, it was important to partner with people who belong to these communities, and are in close contact with grassroot-level realities.”

Dr. Poonam Agarwal (Professor, NCERT)

The issuance of the project is on one hand amicably accepted with open arms and open minds, but on the other hand, it takes the heat from orthodoxical groups claiming the move to have western proclivity. Questions were also raised on the subject of case studies and the people associated with them being Hindu-phobic, thus misaligning the actual matter with trivial communal hues.

Astha Priyadarshini, a Junior Project Fellow in the Department of Gender Studies, based her inputs to the project on her MA dissertation titled ‘Growing Up Gendered: A Transgender Experience of Conflicted Childhood and the Incongruences of Gendering Process,’ for which she conducted 18 in-depth interviews to understand how transgender identity is experienced by transgender people.

The idea of the training aligns well with the National Education Policy to support Socially and Economically Disadvantaged Groups (SEDGs) and helps fight our own preassumptions of several topics, which are not even raised in our discourse of concerns. The well-researched piece of work will go a long way to provide a wise, inclusive and progressive outlook to educators as well as students in our education system.

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