‘The Forgotten People: Identities, Disparities and Education’ Panel By Nirantar Trust

‘The Forgotten People: Identities, Disparities and Education’ Panel By Nirantar Trust

On October 18, 2023, Nidhi participated as a speaker on the panel of “The Forgotten People: Identities, Disparities and Education” organised by Nirantar Trust. The panellists were, Nidhi Goyal, Meena, Ramkali, Ritu Pandey, Sunita Rani Minj and Arti Zopde. Nidhi elaborated on the reality of access to education for persons with disabilities. People with disabilities form a large part of the illiterate adult population and they reach the education system quite late. The major themes of the discussion was around adult literacy, gender and transgender rights. 

Whereas, Meena talked about the significant challenges around encouraging women to pursue education, primarily due to resistance from family members and communities, particularly from Savarna groups who perceive women’s education as a threat. To increase female participation in literacy programs, it is essential to integrate these programs with women’s issues rather than treating them in isolation. Both literacy and digital literacy should receive equal attention and emphasis, as focusing on one without the other would be insufficient. 

On similar lines Ramakali talks about how transgender individuals continue to face discrimination even in higher education settings, with classrooms and campuses often being unwelcoming environments. She highlights a significant issue where transgender individuals are portrayed in documentaries for educational purposes, yet they encounter closed doors when seeking education themselves. This disparity underscores the need for inclusive practices in education. Furthermore, Ramkali emphasises the importance of basic literacy, such as being able to read bus plates, which is essential for their participation in everyday life activities. This indicates a broader need for inclusive education and societal practices that respect the rights and dignity of transgender individuals.

Arti Zopde and Sunita Minj point out the challenges faced by marginalised communities in accessing education. Arti highlights the lack of educators willing to visit brothels, limiting educational opportunities for residents. She also notes the financial vulnerability of community members due to digital payment methods, suggesting that literacy could mitigate financial fraud. Moreover, time constraints, especially for those working in shifts, hinder their participation in education. Similarly, Sunita emphasises the time limitations faced by domestic workers, who juggle multiple jobs or work full-time, making it difficult for them to engage in educational programs. These accounts underscore the need for flexible and accessible education tailored to the unique circumstances of marginalised groups.