Co-Written with Chiara Bassetti, Global Communications Intern

Lei Jiawei, 14, is a student in one of our Inclusive Education project schools in South West China’s Sichuan province.  After having spent the first 14 years of his life at home, unable to access education services and isolated because of his needs, now he feels much happier and is finally able to study in the company of other children. Born with spastic cerebral palsy in a village of Pi County, he could not stand or walk, until his grandfather trained him with a simple bamboo chair when he grew up.

Chongning primary school became the first Inclusive Education pilot school since Save the Children developed its project in Pi County in 2013. It is an inclusive school which incorporates children like Lei into the standard curriculum, whilst also catering to his individual needs by providing him with additional support and specialized teachers in the school’s resource room.

Jiawei is now in fourth grade and very much enjoying his school life. He is very strict with himself in his studies and claims that: “all the teachers cared about me and helped me solve problems with my studies with patience; all classmates offered me assistance from time to time”.

One in five households in China includes at least one person with a disability. Children with disabilities are amongst the most deprived in China and face challenges due to a lack of access to quality education, stigmatisation and social exclusion. According to government data, about one third of special needs children do not complete 9 years of compulsory education.

In partnership with IKEA we have been working with Yunnan, Sichuan and Xinjiang provinces in order to increase the availability and use of quality Inclusive Education. Over 21 million people have been reached through our TV, radio and internet campaigns with over 2,000 children with disabilities directly benefiting from our programmes.  In the project schools, 80% of teachers are now using child-friendly inclusive teaching methods. Furthermore, as a result of these achievements, four teacher universities have established an undergraduate course on IE as part of their course content.

Such achievements are foundational in ensuring that the rights of children with disabilities are respected and enforced. We are continuing to campaign in order to ensure that no child is left behind and that each and every child, regardless of background, ability, who they are or where they come from, have equal access to a quality education.

“Studying is the starting point necessary in order to achieve my dreams,” Says Jiawei, “and when I finish my primary school studies, I hope to earn some money and finally make my living by running a supermarket.”

This photo diary is a heart-warming insight into the realities of his day-to-day life and highlights the value and importance of having access to an inclusive education programme which allows Lei to participate in the joys of childhood- surrounded by both friends and family- and nurturing his ambitions to be an entrepreneur and open his own business in the future.