China Fails to Protect Students with Disabilities from Discrimination

by Vins

On February 23, 2017 the Chinese government released an updated version of the Regulations of Education of Persons with Disabilities that still leaves students with disabilities vulnerable to discrimination.

The amendments are promoted by the government as improving and protecting the rights of interests of disabled students. China hadn’t updated the regulations since 1994 despite ratifying the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2008, which states persons with disabilities have the right to inclusive education and be able to go to regular schools with students without disabilities.

According to a New York Times article published in May 2014, separate schools for students with disabilities are often far from home and sometimes lack trained teachers. This limits the interaction children have with students in mainstream schools. Three years after that article, other than news outlets in China, corporate media has not reported on this issue since the new regulations were put in place.

A Human Rights Watch report says students with disabilities learn better when they are with students who do not have disabilities. The new regulations still give the government authority to send students with disabilities to separate schools if an “expert committee on education for the disabled” deems them unable “to adapt to ordinary school life” (Article 18). This goes against the UN convention that rejects “any distinction, exclusion or restriction on the basis of disability.”

Human rights organizations say the new regulations are modest and still leave students with disabilities at risk for discrimination and segregation from regular schools.


Catherine Lai, “China’s New Rules on Education for People with Disabilities Still Fall Short, Says NGO,” Hong Kong Free Press, February 25, 2017,

Human Rights Watch, “China: New Rules for Students with Disabilities Inadequate,” March 6 2017,

Student Researcher: Jennifer Ackerman (University of Regina)

Faculty Evaluator: Patricia Elliott (University of Regina)