As a just-released report from Human Rights Watch shows, one thing that China fails to do is to educate students with disabilities. China’s disabled children thus face tremendous obstacles in their lives.
83 million people with disabilities live in China. On paper, China recognizes their rights, and, in particular, the imperative of providing them with an education. In 2008, the Chinese government ratified the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Under this international treaty, China says it will provide equal access to education for children with disabilities, as well as an “inclusive education system at all levels.” In the same year, the government passed the Law on the Protection of Persons with Disabilities (LPDP), which was to include “greater funding for the education of people with disabilities.”
But the reality for individuals with disabilities in China is far less rosy than all this suggests. 40 percent are illiterate and 15 million live on less than a dollar a day in the countryside, says HRW’s report. While China prides itself on providing near-universal compulsory education for children at the primary level, only 28 percent of children with disabilities receive such.
One mother interviewed for the report, Chen Yufei, was told by a school principal that they could not enroll her young son, who has ADHD and intellectual disabilities, because he would “affect other children.” She was only able to enroll him in another district’s special education school after paying a “hefty bribe.”
Much of the discrimination that Chinese students with disabilities face would be illegal in the U.S. where all such students are entitled to a free and appropriate public education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
For all that the Chinese government says it is doing for persons with disabilities, the reality is that, when it comes to education, China is in something like the dark ages.
Even as educators in the U.S. and elsewhere marvel at the academic prowess of China’s students (many of whom are now coming to the U.S. for college), we need to keep in mind that China educates only some of its millions of children and that those with disabilities are too often simply left behind.
With permission from Care2
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