The EENET Interview
Lixia Qian is the Director of the Beijing Xicheng Institute of Educational Sciences in China. During her recent visit to the UK we took the opportunity to find out more about what’s happening in China. In this interview she explains why research is so important for the development of China’s education system.
How did you become interested in research?
In 1991 I went to Ohio school for the Deaf in the USA for one year. While I was in the USA I realised that educational research is very valuable. There are so many things to research and so many books to read! When I returned to China I began working at the Institute of Educational Sciences.
What is your role at the Institute of Educational Sciences?
Each staff member at the Institute has responsibility for a different area of education. My responsibility is for special needs education.
The law states that every child has a right to education, but in the rural areas of Western China many disabled children do not go to school – especially the girls. This is because of economic problems and the long distance to school.
What are your main concerns about education in China?
There have been major positive changes in education in China. Since 1996 the Ministry of Education has been promoting Education for All. However there is still a long way to go to offer education to all children with special educational needs, especially in the rural areas. From 1994 – 2000 I was involved in a programme called ‘Education of children with special needs’, organised by the government of China with the support of UNICEF. We made good progress at first, but in the cities the teachers found it difficult to assess and teach the children. They found it difficult to cope with class sizes of 40-50 children and the wide range of ability. We need to carry out research which will help us develop new teaching methods and teacher education courses, and change teachers’ attitudes.
What do you think about EENET?
I had never heard of EENET until I came to Manchester! I have really enjoyed reading the newsletters – they have helped me to understand the meaning of inclusive education. I love the word ‘enabling’ because it means that all children can be educated. I look forward to publishing the results of our research in the next newsletter!
We hope our contact with Lixia will lead to further EENET links with China.
Previously we have featured interviews with colleagues from Brazil, Cameroon, South Africa and Portugal. In the next issue we’d like to have an interview with someone from South Asia, Australasia or Eastern Europe. Please send us your suggestions.