China to boost education for disabled kids

Beijing, Jan 21: China is all set to ensure that at least 90 percent of the children with visual, hearing and intellectual disabilities get free primary and middle school education by 2016 end.

According to a plan on improving education for learners with special needs, there will be more investment, more infrastructure, more quality teachers, and new special education curricula, Xinhua news agency reported.

The plan was mapped out by seven departments, including the education, civil affairs and finance ministries, based on nationwide inspections and surveys.

“Despite obvious development in recent years, our special education work in general is still at a low-level and suffers from regional imbalance,” an education ministry statement said.

According to the plan, the special education budget for each student will be increased to 6,000 yuan (about $990), or eight times the per capita budget in standard schools over the next three years.

The budget figure currently stands at 2,100 yuan.

The plan also advocates even more financial support for disabled children from impoverished families. The three-year plan stipulates that children with special needs should attend the nearest possible standard school.

It also favours that special education skills should be incorporated into standard teacher training and higher education institutes may not refuse admission on the basis of disability.

According to the document, authorities at county-level should have specific teaching plans for every individual disabled child of school age but who have not yet started schooling — roughly 80,000 children.

Government departments will review the progress of local authorities in improving special education as well as the implementation of related policies, the education ministry said.