HRW: China education system fails to include students with disabilities

[JURIST] The Chinese education system fails to include students with disabilities [press release], according to a report [text] released Monday by Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website]. The report, "As Long as They Let Us Stay in Class: Barriers to Education for Persons with Disabilities in China," is based on more than 60 interviews with students with disabilities and their parents. Parents indicated that children with disabilities are excluded if they cannot adapt to the physical landscape of public schools and that they receive no individual accommodations if they are admitted. In most cases, public schools will only accept students with disabilities through middle school. While those students do have the option to attend a special needs public school, they are not very common and are often a source for social stigma. These establishments are contrary to multiple public policies, including some progressive steps taken by the Ministry of Education [official website], the China Disabled Persons' Federation [advocacy website] and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities [text], to which China is a signatory. According to HRW, such exclusionary actions can have life-long dire effects, as schools are required to notify universities of students' disabilities. HRW has called on the Chinese government to enforce its policies on inclusion-based educational settings.

Equality for people with disabilities [HRW backgrounder] is an ongoing challenge around the world [JURIST news archive]. The US has also struggled to create a universally inclusive education system, although there are multiple statutes in place to encourage equality. Most recently, the Department of Education has held that students with disabilities must be given equal opportunities in intramural sports [JURIST report] regardless of their capabilities. In 2009 the US Supreme Court ruled [JURIST report] that the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act [text], permits a tuition reimbursement award against a school district and in favor of parents who unilaterally place their child in private school, where the child had not previously received special education and related services under the authority of a public agency. The Americans with Disabilities Act [text] (ADA) of 1990 stands as the federal minimum on acceptable practices. Other countries have followed suit by creating their own statutes to fall in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

 

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