The National Council for Education Research and Training (NCERT) has been in the news recently. They released a teacher sensitisation manual that will work towards making education inclusive for the LGBTQIA+ community. Just a few days after its release online, there was outrage on social media due to some 'anomalies.' A complaint was also filed with the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), stating that this would 'deny equal rights' to the children.
In light of this, parents of several queer children came together to sign a petition online. It is located on Change.Org, called 'Please Retain NCERT's Teacher's Training Manual on Transgender and Non-Binary Children', asking the education board to bring it back. The petition is addressed to the Joint Director, Dr Sridhar Srivastava.
Stays True To National Education Policy's Inclusive Approach
Authored by a parent named Dr Nilakshi Roy, the petition lauds the NCERT's efforts to bring about inclusivity and diversity in the country's education policy. "It is rightful to include the chapter to the NCERT Training Manual so that the country with an average age of 24 can, at least, make up for the lost time and rise to the occasion as well-informed citizens," it said, strongly emphasising the need of retaining it. Along with this, the parents believe that the manual stays true to the National Education Policy (NEP) attempt to bridge the gaps.
Speaking to The Logical Indian, Roy states, "This was a positive step coming from the NCERT and I definitely wanted to endorse it. This is only going to work towards the well-being of students and the NEP has the exactly the same kind of guidelines." Further, she adds that this approach could curb bullying in schools and lower the dropout rates as well. The manual could help formulation policies in school that condemn practices that hold the children back from expressing themselves.
'I'd Have Had A Better Childhood'
Some of the 'anomalies' noticed in the manual ranged from removing binaries will deny equal rights to children being exposed to unnecessary psychological trauma due to contradictory environments at home and school. However, many felt that this has stemmed from sheer ignorance towards their needs as the common public does not make the effort to understand them.
Renowned LGBTQIA+ activist Harish Iyer told The Logical Indian , "Children who are gender variant or have a different gender expression sometimes have their childhoods erased due to peer bullying. The fight should not be against the teacher's manual, but against the years of ignorance that led to ignominy for children who are not cis-gendered." Iyer further states that this will equip 'gurus to be better gurus.' "If my teachers had the education, I'd have had a better childhood," he adds.
For the parents, this ensures a better future for their children. "If there is no awareness about this issues on a primary level, the children will stop dropping out of schools. The teachers trained in this can act as a support system for these students. This way, the child will feel that the school is a safe space for them," another parent named Mala Sweekar said.
Till now, the petition is extremely close to its target of 5000 signatures. The next step for the parents is to send personal letters to authorities concerned, asking them to bring back the manual that is important for ensuring inclusivity in the country's educational policy.