RESOURCES

130715 As long as they let us stay in class HRW report


130715 As long as they let us stay in class

Barriers to Education for Persons with Disabilities in China

Human Rights Watch report

Across China, children and young people with disabilities confront discrimination in schools. This report documents how mainstream schools deny many such children admission, ask them to leave, or fail to provide appropriate classroom accommodations to help them overcome barriers related to their disabilities. While children with mild disabilities are in mainstream schools where they continue to face challenges, children with more serious disabilities are excluded from the mainstream education system, and a significant number of those interviewed by Human Rights Watch receive no education at all.

Internationally, there is a growing recognition that “inclusion” — making mainstream education accessible for children with disabilities — is a key element in realizing the right to education. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), the most recent international human rights treaty, mandates that state parties “ensure an inclusive education system at all levels.”

By ratifying the CRPD in 2008, the Chinese government made a commitment to “the goal of full inclusion.” Yet it has no clear and consistent strategy to achieve that goal. It continues to devote too few resources to the education of students with disabilities in mainstream schools while at the same time actively developing a parallel system of segregated special education schools. Inclusive education is not just a legal obligation, and it benefits not only students with disabilities — a system that meets the diverse needs of all students benefits all learners and is a means to achieve high-quality education and more inclusive society. While an inclusive education system cannot be achieved overnight, the Chinese government’s current policies and practices raise questions about the extent of its commitment to do so.