Making sense of policy development of inclusive education for children with disabilities in China

Xiao Qu*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Inclusion is integral to the education policy in countries across the world. In China, inclusion has been reaffirmed in recent policies as a priority in enhancing educational quality for disabled children. However, the growing scale of special schools and the increasing number of students enrolled seem to convey a conflicting message with inclusion. This paper critically examines the policy development from 1987 to 2023 concerning education for disabled children in China to make clearer sense of China’s inclusion agenda. The analysis highlights a policy vision where special schools are seen as key resources to enhance inclusive provisions and will continue to grow in scale in the short term as they transform to be an integral and inter-connected part within the wider education system rather than segregated settings, while Learning in Regular Classrooms and inclusion remain a primary objective and rationale underpinning the educational development for disabled children. This means a broader understanding of special education/schools in China is needed. The Chinese government has forged and embraced a unique, if not controversial approach that is adapted to suit the local contexts. This may set an example for the global community to explore localised strategies for inclusion to enhance education for all.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Chinese Education
Issue number1
Early online date20 Feb 2024
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2024


  • special educaytion
  • Chinese special schools
  • disabled children
  • inclusion
  • learning in regular classrooms


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