left corner left corner
China Daily Website

Equality in education urged for disabled

Updated: 2013-03-05 02:17
By He Dan ( China Daily)

China should make continuous efforts to enable disabled students to have equal access to education, as the latest monitoring results show tens of thousands of children with disabilities have been excluded from public education, a senior national political adviser said.

Zhang Haidi, chairwoman of the China Disabled Persons' Federation, said about 83,000 school-age children with disabilities nationwide did not go to school in 2011.

This is according to monitoring results based on a reporting system launched by her organization and the Ministry of Education.

"I did not go to school in my childhood because of disability, so I really understand disabled children's desire (for schooling)," the 58-year-old said.

Zhang has used a wheelchair since she was 5 years old because of a tumor in her spine.

She said she and her colleagues from the country's disabled people's federations have been devoted to promoting the concept of inclusive education by removing barriers for children with disabilities to attend ordinary schools.

Their efforts have started to pay off.

"Last year, 8,091 disabled students were enrolled by universities," Zhang said.

Preschool education for disabled children under the age of 3 is also becoming increasingly widespread in communities, Zhang said, adding that some volunteers are exploring possible ways to teach disabled students at home.

In late February, the State Council, China's cabinet, released a draft revision to the Regulation on the Education of the Disabled, and it is seeking public opinion until March 25.

The revised draft states that the right to an education for people with disabilities such as autism and cerebral palsy should be protected. The current regulation, which was enacted and took effect in 1994, only ensures education for those with difficulties in vision, hearing, speaking and intelligence.

"Disabled children still face all kinds of challenges for an education. Our job is to overcome those difficulties and create a friendly environment for all children," Zhang said.

She has been enthusiastic about learning, especially languages, having mastered English, German, Japanese and Esperanto.

Before working as head of the China Disabled Persons' Federation, Zhang had become a household name in China as a writer.

She said her experience of writing has helped her in her current job to better understand people's pain and needs.

Zhang's account on her micro blog has more than 1 million fans and she has made more than 245 micro blog posts.

In the latest one she offers words of encouragement to a fellow micro-blogger.

Zhang has been a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference for more than 15 years.

Contact the writer at