How the IKEA Foundation have helped children with disabilities access quality education

Written by Ms. HE Dan, Senior Communications and Campaign Officer, Save the Children China Programme

Ms. HE Dan, Senior Communications and Campaign Officer, Save the Children China Programme
Ms. HE Dan, Senior Communications and Campaign Officer, Save the Children China Programme

Children with disabilities in China still face enormous exclusion and discrimination in receiving basic education.  Only 72 per cent of children with disabilities receive or complete nine years of basic education, as required by law. The gap between children with disabilities and their ordinary counterparts is huge, given the latter’s attendance rate is nearly 100 per cent.

Integrating children with minor and medium disabilities in mainstream schooling is extremely underdeveloped due to social stigma and financing mechanisms. From Save the Children’s work here, we have learnt that a lot of local education officials, teachers, principals, and parents believe that children with disabilities are not able to attend mainstream schools, which is not true at all! Children with disabilities usually encounter a lot of barriers to attend mainstream schools. Teachers also lack training on inclusive education methodology.

Project photo China Yihan
Project photo China Yihan

Thanks to the IKEA Foundation’s support over the past three years, Save the Children has launched the Education for All project. The project piloted an inclusive training programme for teachers, education providers and local officials in three provinces.

The programme has achieved many positive changes in the way teachers understand and support children with disabilities in their classrooms, in the pilot locations in Yunnan, Xinjiang and Sichuan. Inspired by this success, local government partners have increased their funding for inclusive education initiatives.

Nationally, Save the Children has worked with educational experts to build up leaders and centres of expertise in inclusive education, by developing new courses for normal universities.

By the end of June 2015 159,957 children in total, including 2,022 children with disabilities, benefited from the project.

None of this would be possible without the IKEA Foundation’s support.