Kuru, a 27-year-old woman from Nagqu, southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region, has had difficulty walking since birth. However, this has not stopped her from pursuing her career goals. As an art teacher at Nagqu Special Education School, Kuru tells her students, who also have disabilities, the classic fable “The Tortoise and the Hare” during classes. This story teaches the importance of persistence and taking things one step at a time, which Kuru hopes her students will learn from.
Established in 2013, Nagqu Special Education School was the first of its kind in Nagqu, providing nine-year compulsory education for children with various types of disabilities, such as visual impairment, deafness, and intellectual disabilities. The school’s establishment reflects the increasing importance that the government in Tibet is placing on special education, as more children with disabilities in Tibet are receiving the education they need.
Kuru’s role as a teacher at the Nagqu Special Education School is just one example of the efforts being made by dedicated individuals to ensure that children with disabilities receive the education and opportunities they deserve. Thanks to these efforts, more and more children with disabilities in Tibet are enjoying a more colorful life.
The Nagqu Special Education School and its teachers, like Kuru, are helping to break down barriers for children with disabilities, providing them with access to education and the opportunity to pursue their goals. By doing so, they are empowering these children to overcome obstacles and lead fulfilling lives, regardless of their disabilities.
The growing emphasis on special education in Tibet, combined with the dedication of teachers like Kuru, is paving the way for a brighter future for children with disabilities in the region. Through education and support, these children are being given the tools they need to succeed and thrive, no matter the challenges they may face.
In 2022, there were seven special education schools in Tibet with 1,057 disabled students enrolled, and an additional 4,600 disabled students were studying in regular schools. The enrollment rate of disabled students during the compulsory education period remained over 97 percent, a positive trend that reflects the government’s commitment to providing education to all children, regardless of their abilities or disabilities. The Tibet Disabled Persons’ Federation has been instrumental in helping to achieve this goal, and their efforts have contributed to the progress made so far.
Kuru, a native of Xigaze, has had difficulty walking since birth due to a disability in her left leg. Having lived with this condition for decades, she understands firsthand how challenging life can be for disabled children. In 2014, she graduated from senior high school and was accepted to Leshan Normal University in neighboring Sichuan Province, where she studied special education. Kuru’s passion for special education has always driven her, and she was motivated to pursue this career path to help students in high-altitude areas.
After completing her studies in 2018, Kuru decided to travel to a school in the northern Tibet prairie, where she has been teaching since 2019. This area has an average altitude of over 4,000 meters, and her students include children with visual, hearing, and intellectual disabilities. Kuru’s story is an inspiring example of how people can overcome challenges and pursue their passions to make a positive impact on the world around them.
Kuru has faced many difficulties in her work as an art teacher at the Nagqu Special Education School, but she remains committed to her students and their education. In classes, Kuru often tells her students the classic fable “The Tortoise and the Hare,” which teaches them the value of persistence and hard work. She believes that students with disabilities can learn from this story and that everyone can achieve success if they take things one step at a time and work hard towards their goals.
When Kuru started teaching at the Nagqu Special Education School, she faced difficulties in managing the students. Initially, the students did not follow her instructions and would not line up after school. Since the school staff had to send the lower-grade students back home for safety considerations, the situation could have been dangerous if they did not line up. However, due to her disabled leg, Kuru could not catch up with the students who would run around instead. This often made her feel depressed and tired. Nonetheless, she persevered and continued to teach the students. Over time, they began to line up when she asked them to.
Despite these challenges, Kuru discovered that the students had a great interest in art classes. During one of her classes in 2021, she shared the fable of “The Tortoise and the Hare” with them, and they showed enthusiasm for it. Kuru encouraged the students to make their own clay tortoises, which she later stuck on the classroom wall with adhesive tape. For Kuru, the clay tortoises were not just a means of showcasing the students’ handiwork; they also allowed her to communicate with the students and show them their progress.
Kuru motivates her students by moving their corresponding tortoises to a higher position on the wall every day when she notices positive changes made by them, no matter how small. This simple act of recognition helps to inspire the students to do better. Nine-year-old Lhapa Tashi, who enjoys making clay tortoises, finds them helpful in tracking his progress. He often takes his tortoise home after school, and says, “Through the tortoise, I can see my progress every day.”
The headmaster of the Nagqu Special Education School, Tsering Lhamo, remembers how difficult it was for the faculty to recruit students ten years ago. However, with dedicated teachers like Kuru, the school has made significant progress. Despite the challenges she faces, Kuru continues to inspire her students and help them grow. Her dedication has not only helped her students to develop their artistic skills but also instilled a sense of discipline and responsibility in them.
The pastoral area of Nagqu had limited knowledge about special education, and the residents knew little about it. Tsering Lhamo, along with other teachers, spent two months traveling across the townships and villages to locate potential students for their special education school. However, the parents were hesitant to send their children to the school, and they had many concerns about their children’s education.
According to the headmaster, parents were unsure about how their children would communicate and what they could learn in school. To gain their trust, the teachers showed them photos and videos of the school’s activities, which helped alleviate their concerns. Finally, after many efforts, they were able to recruit over 60 children with visual, hearing, or language impairments.
Jochung was one of the skeptical parents who had doubts about the school’s effectiveness. However, he sent his grandchildren Tsering Yangzom and Losang Tsultrim, both of whom have mental disabilities, to the school. When they returned home with small pottery figurines that they had made, he knew that he had made the right decision. “Now they have fully gotten used to school life and have become more confident,” said Jochung.
Over time, the number of students in the special education school has increased to 101, ranging from ages five to 18. The school now accommodates seven types of disabilities. Tsering Lhamo believes that more and more parents are realizing the importance of special education and are sending their children to the school. This has been a significant step forward in terms of special education in Nagqu, which was previously unexplored territory.
Thanks to the efforts of teachers like Kuru, more and more disabled children in Tibet are receiving the education they need to lead fulfilling lives. The government’s commitment to providing education to all children, combined with the work of organizations like the Tibet Disabled Persons’ Federation, has helped to create a more inclusive society in which people with disabilities can thrive. Kuru’s dedication to her students and her passion for special education are inspiring examples of how individuals can make a difference in their communities.
In conclusion, the special education school in Nagqu has come a long way since its inception. The teachers’ tireless efforts to locate potential students and gain parents’ trust have paid off. As more parents have come to realize the benefits of special education, the school has seen a significant increase in enrollment. Moreover, students who were initially hesitant to attend the school have shown significant improvements in their self-confidence and skills. This is an excellent example of how education can make a positive impact on people’s lives, regardless of their circumstances.