China Discriminates Against Students with Disabilities

Many Chinese students place high on the rankings for international standardized tests. Recently, China came out on top for the Program of International Student Assessment which covers various subjects such as science, math and reading.

Sadly, there are a vast number of children that are completely left out of the mainstream education system in China. One of the most discriminated groups of students are those possessing disabilities.

Students with disabilities’ access to public schools is extremely lacking in part because of the hukou system. It is a national registration system that prevents migrants from moving freely throughout the country.

Citizens are given rural and urban hukou registrations. If an individual with a rural hukou registration migrates to a major urban center for work, even though they are Chinese citizens, they are denied basic social services that individuals with urban hukous can obtain.

It is unfortunately a legal discrimination.

In Beijing, over one-third of the people are migrant workers, which means one-third of the population cannot take advantage of the social services available to their neighbors. Many migrant children are unable to attend public schools in the region where their parents work because they do not possess the proper hukou registration.

Also, there seems to be an inherent bias against children with disabilities in the Chinese education system. The system divides students into two tracks: those with disabilities and those without.

Those with disabilities are denied access to certain subjects. Many students who are blind are pushed into music and massage courses even if they have the capacity to excel in other subjects.

While the system allows students with disabilities to move into the more mainstream education system as long as they meet the requirements, in many cases they are denied. The legal resources for disabled individuals who are denied access seems to be minimal at best. This is due to the murkiness of Chinese discrimination law.

While China has established schools throughout the country dedicated to teaching children with disabilities, even these come with their own form of discrimination. Many of these schools are tailored to teach children with a specific disability. Students with disabilities who do not fit within the specified category are not allowed to attend.

The result of this discrimination is that many disabled children are not afforded the opportunity to attend school. Looking at the latest international standardized tests, it is apparent that Chinese students in mainstream schools have become great achievers. It is now time for the government to afford the same resources present in mainstream education to disabled children.

It is an affront to Chinese society as a whole that many children with special needs are simply left in the dust as other students excel worldwide.

Zack Lindberg

Sources: Human Rights Watch, CNN
Photo: Education News