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Disabled students get new focused attention
By Liu Weifeng (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-04-06 00:32

Disabled children will attend school free of charge in the capital of South China's Guangdong Province beginning in September of next year.

An estimated 1 million yuan (US$120,000) will come from the local government's budget to fund the plan, said Shi Hongming, source with the Guangzhou Municipal Handicapped Association.

Two current special schools, one for the deaf and one for the blind, have been expanded to 40,000 square metres and 26,600 square metres respectively, or seven and nine times larger than before.

The government budgeted 150 million yuan (US$18 million) for the two projects, said Zhang Yunfu, with Guangzhou Municipal Education Bureau.

The capital city of South China's Guangdong Province is taking measures to improve educational opportunities for disabled citizens over the next few years.

The second plenary session of the 12th Guangzhou People's Congress held late last month highlighted the need for more attention towards the needs of the disabled.

Li Tingting, a deputy, suggested to the congress that students in "special education" should receive preferential charge-free treatment beginning with this September's term.

She said the city should establish a "life-long education system" for the handicapped.

Li, who has been in the middle and higher education field for the past thirty years, said special education faces hardships other areas don't. "Education is the most important way for the disabled to live in harmony with general society," said Li.

A database has been suggested for the collection of information for disabled people starting from the time they are born.

The data are expected to serve as a way for tracing their development and to provide them more care and opportunities.

Besides that, a higher education institute specializing in teaching the disabled is also on Li's list of suggestions.

There is no college in Guangzhou now available for the disabled. Such schools can only be found in Beijing, Nanjing in East China's Jiangsu Province, Changchun of Northeast China's Jilin Province, and Changsha of Central China's Hunan Province.

Education for disabled citizens is very likely to be neglected.

Statistics show that some 400,000 school-aged children are currently lingering outside of classes in China.

The handicapped totalled 60 million in China in 2003, that means one in every 20 people is disabled.

In Guangzhou, there are 10,000 handicapped kids below 15, while the total number amounts to 260,000, according to Shi Hongming, who is with the Guangzhou Municipal Handicapped Association.

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