People with disabilities have been receiving public education for decades in China, an official said on Monday.
"Since the launching of reform and opening-up 30 years ago, China has gradually built a special education system for its people with disabilities, which includes fundamental education, vocational training, higher education and adult education," said Sun Xiande, deputy director-general of the China Disabled Persons' Federation at a press conference during the ongoing Paralympic Games.
"It has always been an important part of China's education cause," he added.
According to statistics provided by the government, by 2007, there were 1,667 special schools, nearly four-fold from the number in 1986, and 2,803 special classes affiliated with ordinary schools in China for vision and hearing impaired and intellectually disabled children, enrolling a total of 580,000 students compared to 47,200 in 1986.
In addition, nearly 20 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities have established subsidy schemes for disabled college students.
Sun, however, admitted that there remains much to be done as there are only 20,000 disabled students studying in higher education institutions, accounting for less than one percent of the country's 82.9 million people with a disability.
"The government will continue to inject more fund and resources in education for the disabled people," said Sun.
"In near future, more disabled people will be able to receive higher education.
"Our top priority is to ensure people with a disability to sufficiently participate in social activities with equal opportunities," he added.
(Xinhua News Agency September 8, 2008)