How the IKEA Foundation is helping children with disabilities access quality education

Ms. HE Dan, Senior Communications and Campaign Officer, Save the Children China Programme, explains how funding from the IKEA Foundation is helping to make sure children with disabilities are included in mainstream education.

In a country like China, which has achieved tremendous progress in children’s well-being over the last decades, children with disabilities have clearly been left behind.

Official statistics indicate that only 72% of children with disabilities aged six to 14 receive nine years of basic education, compared to nearly 100%of children without disabilities of the same age group. Among those children with disabilities who can access education, half are excluded from mainstream schools. In other words, half of them are attending special education institutions and later face numerous challenges in finding jobs in the competitive labour market and integrating into society.

Thanks to the IKEA Foundation’s continuous support for Save the Children’s inclusive education work in China, we have trained teachers in mainstream schools to provide individual study plans and remove barriers for children with disabilities in our pilot projects in Sichuan and Yunnan provinces.

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In order to increase the public’s awareness on inclusive education, Save the Children in China launched a national campaign on 21 September in Beijing, with partners including UNESCO. The campaign’s slogan is: “Let’s go to school together!”

At the launch event, Save the Children released a survey on parents’ attitudes toward inclusive education. By polling about 1,000 parents (including 225 parents of children with disabilities) across China, the survey revealed that 80% of the respondents know little about inclusive education.

The fear of children with disabilities being a distraction or having bad influence on other children are the two most frequently cited reasons for parents opposing the idea of inclusive education.

The three-year inclusive education campaign aims to increase the general public’s awareness of disabled children’s rights to education and to scale up Save the Children’s impact on inclusive education. By using the joint approach of a national campaign and local experimental pilot projects, Save the Children aims to come up with best practices of inclusive education which will not only benefit China, but also the world.

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