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Dedicated professionals take challenging yet rewarding job

Updated: 2021-09-17 08:02 ( China Daily )
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Guo Lijuan, a teacher from the Special Education School of Longxi county in Gansu province, teaches a student maths in his home for the new semester on Aug 31. LANG BINGBING/XINHUA

LANZHOU-Liang Dali, 31, has spent six years teaching Yiyi, a child with special needs, 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 says.

Liang started on her path in special education in 2015, 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 says. "She always welcomed me with the utmost warmth, finishing her homework carefully and reviewing work 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 expectations of me. That is why I decided to devote myself to special education."

Since the student now struggles with 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, which falls 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 students with disabilities in compulsory education in Gansu reached 96.81 percent by the end of last year. The province is home to 44 special education schools at 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 observational skills and creativity to bring the best out of each child," says 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 art skills at the age of 14. Repeated failures made her lose her confidence and doubt herself. "We took her to the fields to practice amid nature and kept encouraging her to pick up the brush and draw whatever she wanted," Qian says.

This year, the 27-year-old was enrolled into Xi'an Academy of Fine Arts. "She told us over the phone, excited and somewhat trembling, and we all cried happily," Qian says.

On the morning of Sept 8, immediately after entering her classroom, Qian spotted an apple and some sweets on her desk and saw all of her students smiling at her.

"At that moment, I felt all my efforts were paying off. Although these children have special needs, they can feel and express love, and are eager to interact with those who love them," Qian says.

"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 adds.


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