Gov’t to build 22 special ed schools in the next 5 years

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Gov’t to build 22 special ed schools in the next 5 years

The Ministry of Education announced on Monday plans to create 22 new schools for people with disabilities by 2022, under a five-year plan aimed at developing special education.

Three are expected to be built in Seoul, Gyeonggi and South Chungcheong, while four will be built in South Gyeongsang, one each in Incheon and Gangwon, and one each in Gwangju, Daejeon and North Chungcheong. Education programs for those with disabilities will also be introduced in 1,250 mainstream schools.

“The number of students with disabilities has been gradually increasing from 86,633 in 2013 to 89,353 this year,” said Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Kim Sang-kon, “so we must expand special education schools for these students and increase the schools’ funds.” He continued, “We will gather and integrate advice given by parents of children with disabilities, teachers and related organizations for the plan.”

The ministry stated plans to increase the number of special education schools from 174 in the present to 196 by 2022, and in addition raise the number of special education classes from 10,325 to 11,575.

Due to the paucity of nearby special education schools, students with disabilities often traverse long commutes to attend these schools, and even if they live near one, the schools are usually overcrowded. The ministry’s plan is aimed at addressing these issues.

Plans to develop more special education schools came after the mother of a student with a disability knelt in front of an open citizens’ forum in September, pleading for the ministry to increase the number of schools. Seoul Metropolitan Area has not seen a new special education school in 15 years, since the construction of the Seoul Gyeungun School in 2002.

By next year, the ministry hopes to place 1,173 more teachers for special education schools and increase their placement from 67 percent to 90 percent in five years. Under the law regarding special education, one teacher must be placed for every four students with disabilities. Though there are a great number of students with disabilities, only 28.9 percent of them attend special education schools.

With more than 70 percent of these students attending mainstream schools, the ministry is hoping to encourage more interactions between students with and without disabilities in mainstream schools by developing cultural arts and sports programs.

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