LANZHOU, June 28 (Xinhua) -- A video clip of Zhang Huiyu, a Chinese girl with visual impairment, passionately reciting "Ode to the Yellow River" has recently attracted a flurry of attention online.
The 16-year-old is a seventh-grade student in Tianshui Special Education School in the city of Tianshui in Gansu Province, northwest China. Suffering from congenital cataracts, Zhang confronts grave challenges in learning.
"We didn't know there was a special education school for the blind until Tianshui disabled persons' federation contacted us. We sent her to the school after we visited it," said Zhang's grandfather.
"When I was in an ordinary primary school, I had a hard time with study and I couldn't read the papers clearly in exams. But when I came to the special education school, I even found a teacher who is completely blind, which inspires me to work hard to become a special education teacher in the future," Zhang said.
Opened in 1986, Tianshui Special Education School now has 38 classes and 430 students. The school has departments for intelligence training, hearing impairment and visual impairment as well as a vocational high school.
In the department of intelligence training, students learn life skills, labor habits, and some basic language and math knowledge, while also receiving rehabilitation training.
For the hearing-impaired students, after completing nine years of compulsory education, they can enter the vocational high school and then take the special "gaokao," national college entrance examinations, for hearing-impaired students.
"In the past two years, 57 students from our vocational high school have participated in the special 'gaokao,' and 34 of them have been admitted to colleges and universities," said Dong Wuyan, principal of Tianshui Special Education School.
For the students in the visual impairment department, after receiving nine-year compulsory education, they would either go to high school or integrate into society with their acquired vocational skills.
China's regulation on education for the disabled requires access to nine-year compulsory education for all school-age children and adolescents with disabilities. No schools are allowed to decline their appeal for schooling. The requirement was simplified as "full coverage and zero rejection."
For 61 disabled students who cannot attend school, Tianshui Special Education School offers door-to-door education, arranging teachers to teach them at home.
The school has also been upgrading its facilities. It was newly equipped with a reading room, sensory training room and massage room in recent years. Besides basic courses, the school has also created many clubs, including basketball, Tai Chi and chess.
"From 2016 to 2020, we implemented two special education upgrading plans, setting up special education schools in all counties and districts with a population of more than 300,000," said Shen Jianling, director of the Tianshui municipal education bureau.
By the end of 2020, the enrollment rate of compulsory education for children and adolescents with disabilities in Gansu Province reached 96.81 percent, and there were 44 special education schools for compulsory education.
In January, China's Ministry of Education, together with relevant authorities, released an action plan to boost the development of special needs education, with the aim of reaching a 97 percent enrollment rate for school-age minors with disabilities in compulsory education by 2025.