China’s Compulsory Education Law mandates that every child be given the right to nine years of free public education: six years of elementary school and three years of secondary school. However, for persons with disabilities, the education system is far from inclusive as the system is constituted by a combination of ‘special schools’ and segregation in ordinary schools.
The primary laws relating to the education of persons with disabilities are the Regulations on the Education of Persons with Disabilities (1994, amended in 2013) (“Regulations”) which were enacted to ensure the rights of persons with disabilities to education. The Regulations also aim to develop educational projects in this area.
Whilst the amendments to the Regulations carry positive elements (i.e. by requiring mainstream schools to develop individualized educational plans for students with disabilities), the Human Rights Watch criticized such revisions as they reinforce the parallel system of segregation in ordinary schools and special education schools. The Regulations fail to remove obstacles faced by children with disabilities in ordinary schools because there is no clear requirement on schools to provide reasonable accommodation.