Human Rights Watch
MARCH 6, 2017
China: New Rules for Students with Disabilities Inadequate
Modest Reforms Undercut by Provisions Allowing Discrimination
New Chinese government regulations encourage mainstream education for students with disabilities, but do not provide adequate pathways for achieving that aim, Human Rights Watch said today. On February 23, 2017, the Chinese government released long-awaited Regulations of Education of Persons with Disabilities to replace the out-of-date 1994 regulations.
The new regulations are unlikely to substantially change the current environment in which mainstream schools only admit children with physical disabilities or mild forms of other disabilities, and bar admission to many others. More positively, the regulations do mandate local governments to plan and allocate adequate funding and resources to the education of people with disabilities; stipulate teacher training, evaluation, and promotion; and require that schools develop individualized educational plans for students with disabilities.
“While international standards have influenced the new regulations, China still imposes discriminatory obstacles for children with disabilities to be placed in mainstream schools,” said Sophie Richardson, China director. “After nearly a decade to implement these standards, children with disabilities will still too often be segregated in a separate educational system.”
China’s Ministry of Education has long operated parallel systems of education for persons with disabilities: mainstream schools in which students with disabilities “study along with the class,” and special education schools in which students with disabilities are segregated according to types of disabilities. While state media reports say the revisions were aimed to fulfill China’s obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which it ratified in 2008, these practices are at odds with the convention, which require that governments “ensure an inclusive education system at all levels.”
In a 2013 report, Human Rights Watch found that even when students with disabilities were placed in mainstream schools, they were often given little accommodation or systematic support.