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Life improving for disabled

Li Fei
Updated: Jul 26,2019 06:55 AM    China Daily

China has made huge improvements in safeguarding education and employment of disabled citizens, according to a white paper released by the State Council Information Office on July 25.

The white paper, which reviews the country’s achievements in welfare of the disabled since its founding 70 years ago, said it has done its utmost to ensure that compulsory and continue education are available to students with disabilities.

The white paper said 666,000 such students studied in special schools last year, an increase of 298,000 people, or 81 percent since 2013.

China had 19,475 such students in secondary vocational schools or classes nationwide last year, and 62,200 special needs students made it to mainstream colleges between 2012 and 2018, it said.

With mainstream schools being more inclusive, the number of disabled attendees there jumped from 191,000 in 2013 to 332,000 last year, an increase of 73.8 percent.

Zhang Haidi, chairwoman of the China Disabled Persons’ Federation, said at a news conference on July 25 that China has worked over the last few decades to make sure disabled people have the same rights to education as their able-bodied counterparts.

Now special needs students can attend schools in multiple ways, including in mainstream schools, special schools or at home with government-financed tutors or online courses, she said.

“Financially strapped students can attend school free of tuition,” she said.

Zhang said the group also has more job opportunities thanks to better legal protections, more policy support and training programs.

More than 80 laws and 50 administrative regulations have been passed concerning the protection of the rights and interests of people with disabilities, according to the white paper.

A number of policies, including tax breaks, have been rolled out to encourage employers to hire disabled workers, it said.

The document said that last year, 850 national or provincial-level vocational training centers were built nationwide for disabled people, and 367,000 additional registered disabled people found jobs.

A total of more than 9.4 million registered disabled people were employed as of last year.

Despite progress, the white paper said there is still a huge gap between the lives led by those with special needs and the lives to which they aspire.

Hu Kaihong, spokesman for the State Council Information Office, said at the news conference on July 25 that in the past 70 years, China has made efforts to protect the needs of the disabled and help them become contributors to and beneficiaries of economic development.

“China has discovered a development path for promoting disability rights and interests with Chinese characteristics,” he said.

Hu said China has 85 million disabled citizens, the largest such group worldwide, and therefore faces huge challenges.

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