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  • Chris McMillan



12 March 2021

Written by Elsa Sichrovsky.

Traditionally, Taiwanese society has tended to view children with SEN (Special Educational Needs) as a source of shame on their parents. Based on the principle of karma, disability was believed to be punishment for his or her parents’ past sins.

Before the 1970s, if not kept hidden at home to avoid friends’ and neighbours’ judgment, children with disabilities were often sent to institutions staffed with under-qualified faculty without proper certification. On many occasions, these students were subjected to unregulated discipline measures such as corporal punishment and confinement. Following the UN Declaration of the Rights of Disabled Persons in 1975, Taiwan’s disability policy has sought to keep up with its standards of universal access to education and protection of vulnerable individuals from institutionalised discrimination. In 1984, the Special Education Act, which is largely based on the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) model of special education from the United States, was adopted as Taiwan’s special education policy.

As of 2019, government statistics estimate a total of 105000 students with disabilities nationwide, with a growing trend of special education applications as disability awareness expands among parents. According to Article 11 of the Special Education Act, special education forms for students from elementary school to senior high school primarily take on three forms: a centralised special education class, a decentralised resource room, or an itinerant resource program. Students who pass placement and assessment examinations – and are fortunate enough to claim a seat in a special education class or resource room before reaching the government-stipulated quota – are placed in one of these three programs. It is important to note that special education is divided into special education for unusually gifted students and special education for students with disabilities in Taiwan. This article discusses special education for children with disabilities. Resource rooms and itinerant resource programs fall into inclusive education, which places children with disabilities in general education classrooms for most of their schooling with assistance for particular areas in the aforementioned resource room or program. Currently, over 90 per cent of students (elementary to high school) with disabilities are put into inclusive education programs.


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