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Special education gives wings to children's dreams

Xinhua | Updated: 2022-10-28 10:55
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CHANGSHA -- Blindfolded and each holding a blind crutch, a group of children were moving to the beat in perfect coordination in a rehearsal room in Changsha, the capital of Central China's Hunan province.

All the young dancers, also students of a special education school, are visually impaired. Soon they will be performing at the opening ceremony of the upcoming provincial games for the disabled.

Founded in 1908, Changsha Special Education School is one of the oldest such schools in China. It provides preschool rehabilitation, nine-year compulsory education, and secondary vocational education to students with visual and hearing impairments, learning disabilities, and developmental disorders.

Based on its rich teaching experience, the school has released a series of research results introduced to over 300 similar schools nationwide, according to Nie Bing, Party secretary of the school.

In 2005, the school established the "Dream of Wings" art ensemble with musical instruments, vocal music, dance, and other extracurricular training to encourage students' comprehensive development.

Zeng Liyuan, head of the troupe, believes by engaging in such training, students can improve physical coordination, build self-confidence, and gain a sense of accomplishment.

It also gives special children chances to display their talents in the spotlight. Over the years, these students have brought back dozens of trophies from art competitions held at home and abroad.

This photo taken on May 20, 2022 shows students with hearing impairments attending class at Changsha Special Education School in Changsha, capital of Central China's Hunan province. [Photo/Xinhua]

For the visually impaired dancers, the whole learning and practicing process was quite challenging, especially at the beginning, recalled Chen Lu, dance director of the art ensemble.

"To learn the movements and postures precisely, the students had to touch the instructors' body to imitate and try to form muscle memory after countless repetitions. They also need to prick up their ears to figure out their moving directions while changing formations," said Chen.

Nian Nian, a 13-year-old dance troupe member, used to be self-abased due to his severe visual impairment. But things have changed since he started dancing two years ago.

"I made many friends in the troupe," he said. "I'm a slow learner, but the troupe members and instructors never gave up on me and kept practicing with me, encouraging me to do my best."

China has attached great importance to the education of disabled children. Counties with a population of more than 300,000 have special education schools, and the enrollment rate of disabled children in compulsory education is above 95 percent, according to the Ministry of Education.

Earlier this year, the central government put forward an action plan asking to accelerate the high-quality development of special education during the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-2025).

It also requires the enrollment rate of disabled children in compulsory education to reach 97 percent in 2025.

This photo taken on Oct 14, 2022 shows a teacher instructing a student during a preschool rehabilitation class at Changsha Special Education School in Changsha, capital of Central China's Hunan province. [Photo/Xinhua]

The school in Changsha has established tailored vocational courses to prepare students for their future career development. They include fashion design for hearing-impaired students, traditional Chinese medicinal physical therapy for the visually impaired, and domestic services courses for students with learning disabilities and development disorders.

"By attending the courses, children can learn in advance what skills they should master in doing a certain profession," said Zeng Qianlan, a teacher at the school.

Li Haixia, whose son is learning baking at the school, found the child has become happier since the course started.

"My son loves baking. He delighted the whole family during the past Mid-Autumn Festival by bringing home self-made mooncakes, and they tasted so good," Li said cheerfully.

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