Structural barriers to inclusive education for children with special educational needs and disabilities in China

Xiao Qu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
60 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Inclusion has been increasingly recognised as a global common goal in education. In China, inclusive education for children with special educational needs and disabilities is currently practised as ‘Learning in Regular Classrooms’ (LRC). However, not only has the inclusion policy frequently been criticised as failing to provide clear, systematic, or consistent strategies, but also the actual practices of LRC have also been found to merely concern children’s physical integration into the mainstream settings. This discussion paper explores key structural barriers to inclusive education through reviewing policies within the wider education ecosystem that are relevant to the theme of inclusion but outside the LRC policy itself. The analysis illustrates how the complex and interlocked structural barriers embedded within the wider context of current education policies pose persisting constraints for inclusion to progress in China, and how these structural barriers unique to the Chinese education system also reflect the common ‘wicked problems’ for practising inclusive education globally. The paper discusses five main education structures: neo-liberal education policies, national college entrance examination system, teacher evaluation system, staffing quota system and the ‘combine medicine and education’ policy. The conclusion illustrates the complexity and main issues facing future inclusion policy reforms and highlights key objectives for policy change. It indicates that, for inclusion reforms to be effective, broader changes are needed within the wider education ecosystem.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-276
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Educational Change
Volume23
Early online date15 Jun 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 May 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Chinese education system
  • inclusion
  • LRC
  • policy analysis
  • wicked problems

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