Review snubs special needs children: critics

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 22 July, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 22 July, 2006, 12:00am

Parents and legislators have criticised the education authority for not addressing the requirements of secondary students with special needs in its latest review of integrated education.

The Education and Manpower Bureau yesterday revealed several new measures to help special needs students integrate into mainstream schools.

Deputy Secretary Betty Ip Tsang Chui-hing told a Legislative Council meeting that one of the measures is to give extra support to primary and secondary schools with a large number of special needs pupils, or relatively seriously disabled students.

The bureau hopes that in five years, at least 10 per cent of teachers in each school will have basic training in integrated education. It announced the incorporation of elements of integrated education into training courses for principals and teaching assistants.

But Chan Kwai-ling, of the Parents' Association of Autistic Children in Mainstream Education, said the review failed to address the fact the bureau had 'grossly neglected' the interests of secondary students with special needs.

Special needs children in mainstream primary schools at present receive a subsidy of between $10,000 and $20,000 a year, but the scheme does not apply to secondary students. Legislator Cheung Man-kwong, chairman of the Professional Teachers' Union, urged the government to apply the same scheme to secondary school students. But Mrs Ip said the bureau would need more time to see how integrated education could be implemented in secondary schools.