Across China: Selfless teachers give special needs kids hope for a brighter future
LANZHOU, Sept. 11 (Xinhua) -- Liang Dali, 31, has spent six years teaching special needs child Yiyi basic skills such as using utensils, hand washing and going to the toilet.
Liang, from Longxi County in northwest China's Gansu Province, says her job is rewarding but also challenging. "I'm often asked whether it's hard to be a special education teacher," she said.
Liang started her path in special education in 2015 by joining the first batch of teachers organized by the government to offer door-to-door educational services to ensure equal opportunities for children with severe disabilities. So far, more than 300 teachers in Longxi County have provided free visitation services for over 170 disabled children.
"I was a kindergarten teacher back then and offered my services to a severely disabled girl near my school," Liang said, "She always welcomed me with the utmost warmth, finishing her homework carefully and reviewing before our next class."
Liang could not help but cry every time she thought about this special student. "I will never forget her eyes -- full of expectation for me. She is why I decided to devote myself to special education."
Since the student now suffers from an illness that has made it impossible for her to move freely, she asks her parents to create a card for Liang based on her ideas every year for Teacher's Day on Sept. 10.
Thanks to continuous efforts, people are now more aware of special education. In Gansu, the number of teachers involved in the sector has exceeded 1,200. The enrollment rate of the disabled in the compulsory education stage in Gansu has reached 96.81 percent by the end of last year. The province is home to 44 special education schools in the compulsory education stage, and counties with a population of over 300,000 each have independent special education schools.
"It is necessary for teachers to have strong observation skills and creativity to find the characteristics and shining points of each child," said Qian Enhua, one of Liang's colleagues at the Special Education School of Longxi County.
Xiaoxia, a hearing-impaired child who likes drawing, was not able to paint grass without the help of teachers when she started to learn the skill at the age of 14. Repeated failures made her lose her confidence and doubt herself. "We took her to the fields to practice in the nature and kept encouraging her to pick up the brush and draw whatever she wanted," Qian said.
The 27-year-old girl was admitted to Xi'an Academy of Fine Arts this year. "She told us over the phone, excited and somewhat trembling, and we all cried happily," Qian said.
On Wednesday morning, Qian spotted an apple and some sweets on her desk immediately after she entered the classroom and saw her students smiling at her.
"At that moment, I felt all my efforts paid off. Although these children have special needs, they can feel and express love, and are eager to interact with those who love them," Qian said.
"As a special education teacher, what I want to do most is to provide 'invisible wings' for them to fly bravely toward their bright futures," she added. Enditem