From unconscious to conscious inclusion: meeting special education needs in West China

The authors map the route undertaken by the Project Management Office of the Gansu Basic Education Project (GBEP) in Gansu Province, China, in instituting measures to ensure good learning opportunities for children with special educational needs within the four poor counties benefiting from this DFID supported project. The main purpose of GBEP has been to increase enrolment and retention in these poor, minority areas so as to achieve universal basic education. As general enrolment increased so did that of pupils with special needs, the educational needs of which the schools began responding to in an unconscious way. However, at the start there was little understanding at the classroom and management levels of how to ensure access to learning as well as access to school. The authors map out the road to change and the methods undertaken to change practice at various management and classroom levels so as to enable schools to provide more adequately for these children. Experiences of and lessons from project implementation have been analysed so as to generate implications which might be beneficial to inclusive education initiatives in areas, in China and elsewhere, with similar conditions.

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