Save the Children brings Inclusive Education to the forefront in China

Thursday 23 April 2015

Under the campaign slogan #我们不一样,我们都一样——同班·同学#, Save the Children has united netizens, celebrities and children to increase awareness of Inclusive Education in China

Inclusive Education-Children's Drawing Competition-Beijing-Apr 2015-by黄林龙

Beijing, 21st April 2015 – At IKEA’s Xihongmen store in Beijing, Save the Children, hosted an interactive event to mark the culmination of their latest push to increase awareness of “Inclusive Education” in China. Central to the event is the conclusion of a national drawing competition launched under the slogan #我们不一样,我们都一样——同班·同学# (we are all different, we are all the same – let’s be classmates). Nearly 300 children from primary schools in Yunnan, Sichuan, Xinjiang, and Beijing submitted drawings showcasing their interpretation of “Inclusive Education” and the top 25 drawings are likely to be exhibited by IKEA’s 16 stores throughout China. 

The event was attended by Pia MacRae, China Country Director at Save the Children, Xu Lide, Corporate PR manager of IKEA China, as well as members of the media and general public. Of the top 25 drawings, 4 child-artists were invited to share their stories about how “Inclusive Education” has affected them. In addition, Guo Yihan, a young girl from Sichuan province, who has benefited from “Inclusive Education,” was in attendance accompanied by her mother, Mrs Zhou Miao. 

Inclusive Education-Children's Drawing Competition-Beijing-Apr 2015-by黄林龙

People in the audience were touched after watching a video and hearing Mrs Zhou share stories on how the school has supported Yihan. One example she shared was regarding how the school moved Yihan’s classroom from the fourth floor to the first, to make it more accessible for her. Additionally, Mei Ting, famous actress and Inclusive Education Ambassador for Save the Children, filmed a short video for the event and expressed her congratulations to the 25 child-artists. Concluding the event, famous musician Qin Yong talked about his story as a father with a son living with a disability. A particular highlight of the event was a live performance by Qin Yong who, with his son, performed the song “一起长大” (grow up together) to mark the occasion. 

Launched on April 7, 2012, in partnership with the IKEA Foundation, “Inclusive Education’’ is a global initiative that aims to break down the barriers preventing children with disabilities from learning side by side with children without disabilities. Since its launch the initiative has made progress in China in provinces including Sichuan, Yunnan, and Xinjiang where Save the Children has supported 35 mainstream and 3 special education schools, as well as trained over 200 teachers on “Inclusive Education.” In addition, there are now 8 universities in China, such as East China Normal University and Sichuan Normal University, who offer “Inclusive Education” related courses. Save the Children is also in partnership with the Law School of Renmin University to provide special training to educational policy makers from 28 provinces in China. 

Building on these efforts, Save the Children has, over the last month, released a series of videos on their official Youku account (@救助儿童会) showcasing their work and some of the children who have benefited from their efforts. The results have been remarkable and under the campaign slogan #我们不一样,我们都一样——同班·同学#, netizens, partners, celebrities and children have joined together in getting behind the initiative. Two videos had been released since March 31, garnering over 7 million views with nearly 1000 and counting comments. A number of famous figures such as Chinese actors Du Chun and Li Xiaoren have also shown their support by reposting the video to their fans.  

Speaking about the initiative, Pia MacRae, China Country Director at Save the Children, said, “According to Ministry of Education data, there are 5 million disabled children and approximately 30% of them are not in school in China. Of the children that are registered, only half are able to study in mainstream classrooms. Through our “Inclusive Education” initiative, Save the Children and our partners hope to make real progress in tackling this issue and in doing so provide disabled children the same access to education as non-disabled children. We are already seeing signs of progress and this event coupled with recent activities are all steps in the right direction. This is just the beginning and there is still much work to be done but all of us at Save the Children would like to thank everyone for their recent support.”

Xu Lide, Corporate PR manager of IKEA China also commented, “The IKEA Foundation is proud of our global relationship with Save the Children. We are committed to promoting children’s education and are delighted at the recent reception amongst Chinese audiences to get behind “Inclusive Education.” We very much look forward to supporting the future success of “Inclusive Education” in China and around the world”.