Education scholars and school administrators gathered in east China's Zhejiang Province on Wednesday to discuss inclusive education and school reform at a special education conference in the seaport city of Ningbo.
The International Forum on Inclusive Education is held in Ningbo, Zhejiang Province, June 22, 2011. [China.org.cn]
More than 100 education experts from around the world attended the International Forum on Inclusive Education in Ningbo's Haishu District on Wednesday to talk about special education, school reform and the development of an inclusive education system.
Inclusive education means providing chances for children with special needs to study in regular schools together with ordinary children. It emphasizes combining special education with general education by putting children with special needs in a normal educational environment and providing them with all the extra services and support they need to succeed.
Haishu District has been at the forefront of China's inclusive education efforts. Several scholars praised the Haishu school system as a model reflecting China's breakthrough advancements in special education.
As early as the late 1980s, the district adopted integrated children with special needs with other students, allowing them to attend the same schools.
In 2008, local authorities established a supportive education resource center. Currently, Haishu has pilot programs providing supportive education to special needs students at eight primary schools, nearly half of primary and secondary schools in the district.
"Next, we need to make more efforts in legislation, public awareness, economics and teacher training," said Professor Wang Mian from University of California, Santa Barbara.
Shen Li, vice president of Changning District Junior Vocational School in Shanghai holds a similar view. "At present, policies to promote inclusive education are inadequate. We need to promote awareness of inclusive education among ordinary school teachers and further develop the curriculum," he said.