Joining with other experts in the area of education for those with disabilities in China, Associate Professor of Education Helen McCabe delivered remarks as an invited panelist at the United Nations earlier this month. McCabe’s address took place during the six session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. She shared her expertise during “Strategies for access to education for children and young people with disabilities: The case of China,” a panel hosted by Human Rights Watch.
Recently, Human Rights Watch had prepared a large report about certain barriers to education for persons with disabilities in China. The organization was at the U.N. this month to present the results of that report, which focuses on inclusive education. Recognized as an expert in her field of work, McCabe was invited to join the panel to discuss disability and education for people with disabilities in China based on her extensive experiences and research in the area during the past 20 years.
McCabe says she remarked on China’s progress in the field of education for children with disabilities, as well as the current challenges. About 50 people from all over the world attended the panel, including three from Asia, many from Africa and Europe, and some from the United States.
“Specifically, I emphasized that while China currently has a system of placing some children with disabilities into general education classes – called ‘suiban jiudu’ (follow the class for study), there is no support provided to teachers,” McCabe says. “When there is one teacher and 50 students in a classroom, it is understandable that they feel challenged.”
McCabe says she also provided several easy suggestions on ways to begin to address certain issues, starting with promoting awareness of all students’ strengths and using peers to help each other. On a larger scale, she called for the Chinese government to move the two systems of general and special education into just one system.
Currently, McCabe says the general and special education in China are so separate that it’s nearly impossible to have special education support in general education schools. McCabe says she also shared positive examples, but made it clear that each was a case example – and that while they appear promising – are far outnumbered by the number of children not receiving appropriate educational services.
McCabe joined the HWS faculty in 2004 and is an expert on autism and its relation to education, family and social change in the U.S. and China. Her most recent scholarly writings include “Disability and family in China: Implementation, benefits, and comparison of two mutual support groups,” which appeared in the Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disability, and “Bamboo shoots after the rain: Development and challenges of autism intervention in China,” which was published in Autism: The International Journal of Research and Practice.