Ensuring equal opportunities for the disabled in the National College Entrance Examination in China

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On June 7th 2014, 46-years-old Li Jinsheng walked into the examination room to participate his first Gaokao (National College Entrance Examination), known as the most important assessment for the Chinese.  Although most of the questions were not answered, he became the first blind person who participated in the general Gaokao. Before Li, a blind person could only apply several colleges through “Special Examination”, mostly opting for occupational areas such as massage, acupuncture and music.

In 2010, China had 85 million people with disabilities, out of whom more than 12.6 million were visually impaired and 20.5 million were hearing impaired [1]. As indicated in the education law, every citizen in China has the equal right to education. Thus it became more and more important to ensure equal opportunities for the disabled people in higher education admission.

In April 2015, The Ministry of Education and China Disabled Persons’ Federation jointly issued Management Regulation on Disabled Person Participating in the National College Entrance Examination (Trial) [2].According to this regulation, disabled examinees apply for necessary conditions and appropriate facilitations such as braille paper, large size paper, exemption from listening test, extended test time and so on (more in the box below). After an on-site confirmation and evaluation by expert group, the applicant can get a formal notification of whether their needs can be fulfilled. The examination authority then will provide all reasonable conveniences and necessary equipment for these special examinees.  

Reasonable facilitation measures could be applied1. □ using braille papers         □ using large size papers      □ using ordinary papers2. □ exemption from listening test3. □ carrying braille pens                              □ carrying braille tablet      □ carrying a braille typewriter                □ carrying lighting table lamp□ carrying an optical magnifying glass   □ carrying a cane□ carry braille mapping tools                  □ carrying a rubber mat4.□ wearing a hearing aid     □ wearing a cochlear implant5.□ using wheelchair             □ using crutch    □ carrying special tables and chairs6.□ extending test time     7.□ need guidance assistance8.□ need sign language translation9.□ Priority access to test sites, examination room

The regulation was a great step forward to protect the equal education rights for the disabled people in China. Since then, more and more disabled examinees began to apply for the facilitation measures. In 2018, there were almost 50 applicants in Shanghai, China. Although the total number was not very large, it is evident that the regulation encourages disabled youngsters to pursue their education dream. During 2015 to 2017, the number of disabled candidates admitted by colleges through Gaokao increased from 8508 to 10818, making the total number of disabled candidates to 28918 [3]. Upon having piloted and revised, the Management Regulation on Disabled Person Participating in the National College Entrance Examination became an official in early 2017.

The regulation also set an example for other kinds of examination at the provincial level. In 2017, Shanghai Municipal Education Commission issued a new implementation plan for senior secondary special education school admission and examination [2]. According this plan, disabled junior students can ask for the similar facilitation measures and choose to apply for either general senior secondary schools or special education schools.

Accommodating the needs of disabled students in examination is only part of government initiative to ensure equal education opportunities for all including the disabled students. With more and more disabled students enrolled in the normal schools and colleges, provision of quality education to them becomes a new issue that the government needs to pay attention. With all these efforts, real inclusive education could be ensured in the country.

Written by Zhu Xiaohu [shiyuzhuu@shnu.edu.cn], Research Institution for International and Comparative Education, Shanghai Normal University, China and Yu Wei [yuwei@shmeea.edu.cn], Shanghai Municipal Educational Examinations Authority, China

Related links: 

[1] http://www.cdpf.org.cn/sjzx/cjrgk/201206/t20120626_387581.shtml

[2] Ministry of Education and China Disabled Persons’ Federation.  Management Regulation on Disabled Person Participating in the National College Entrance Examination (Trial). 2015.04.21.

[3] http://www.sohu.com/a/252741609_198066

[4]Shanghai Education Commission. Shanghai Municipal Education Commission on the Implementation plan for Senior Secondary Special Education School Admission and Examination. 2017.03.17.

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