An explicit definition of inclusive education has not been found, despite the reference to the expression. Inclusive education in the Macau system can be considered as the placement of students with special education needs within regular classes, as specified in the 2015 Consultation Document launched by the Directorate of Education and Youth Services to amend the Special Education system.
Special education needs
The 33/1995 Decree uses the expression pupils with special education needs to refer to children with physical, sensorial, mental, emotional or social disorders. The education of pupils with special educational needs resulting from physical, sensory, psychic, emotional and social characteristics is required to respect their differences in order to promote their educational success and social integration(art.2, 33/1996 Decree-Law)
The 2015 Consultation Document specifies that students with physical or psychological impairments include those with functional disabilities, hearing, visual, physical and speech impairments, with mental disability, with autism spectrum disorders, with special learning difficulties and with emotional and behavioral disability.
Education for children with severe and multiple disabilities has been provided in segregated settings by religious organizations, starting from the late 1960s. In the early 1990s, special education was officially regulated by law, and children with special education needs could access to the education system. By 1996, the education for students with special education needs was promoted in all local schools.
Public schools only account for one sixth of the total, reaching out to less than 4% of the student population. Private schools, about 65, enroll most of the total student population. Since the 1999 transfer of sovereignty from Portugal, the autonomy of the private sector of education has been restructured and education institutions are demanded to adhere to government’s standards and regulations. Yet, due to the selection procedure to entry private schools, access to education for students with learning difficulties and/or disabilities may be denied.
In 2015, a debate about special education provision was initiated through a Consultation Document launched by the Directorate of Education and Youth Services. The Document distinguishes three categories of learners with special education needs (SEN) and three education provisions, respectively:
- Full inclusion into regular classrooms, according to an inclusive education approach;
- Integration in regular schools but in small separated classrooms;
- Education in special education classes through a separate curriculum according to the degree of disability.
According to the Macao Education and Youth Affairs Bureau, more than 60% of students with special needs are educated in inclusive classrooms, while others were placed in special education and special needs classes in the 217-2018 school year.
Based on the 1993 Basic Law of the Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR), entered into force in 1999, Macao defines its own education policies, including teaching languages and the education system (art. 121). All residents are free to engage in education, research and cultural activities (art.37). At the international level, People's Republic of China ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled Persons in 2008, whose provisions are also valid for Macao SAR.
Among the main legal documents regulating Macao’s compulsory education system, the 9/2006 Fundamental Law of Non-Tertiary Education lays down the right to education to all persons regardless of their nationality, descent, race, gender, age, language, religion, political or ideological beliefs, level of instruction, and economic or social status (art. 3.1). It further mandates the government to create opportunities to access to education (art.3.4), guaranteeing the freedom of teaching and learning (art.3.6). Compulsory, free universal regular education has been extended up to 15 years old (art. 20). The Ten Year Plan for the Development of Non-Tertiary Education 2011-2020 intends to promote education equity as general principle for non-tertiary education.
The persons with disabilities are protected by the Basic Law of the Macao SAR (art.38(3)). The promotion and protection of disability rights are enshrined in the 33/1996 Decree-Law on Regime of Disability Prevention, Rehabilitation and Social Integration of Persons with Disabilities.
Concerning education, the 33/1996 Decree-Lawintroduced a twin track model specifying in its art. 12 that special education is “developed, preferably, integrated in regular schools, but can also take place in institutions of special education, in different forms”). Revising the 11/1991 Law on the Education System, the 9/2006 Fundamental Law of Non-Tertiary Education sets out the provision forlearners with special educational needs, including gifted and talented students, and those with physical and mental impairments, to receive special education with adequate support (art. 12). Likewise, the 1996 legislation, the new regulatory framework permits the existence of parallel education paths, regular schools and “special education institutions”.
In 2013, a cross-departmental research team was set up to investigate, evaluate and follow up on the development plan for the assistance for the rehabilitation and integration of the community of the persons with disabilities, which led to the adoption of the Ten-Year Rehabilitation Programme Plan 2016–2025. Among its focus areas, the Plan outlines pre-school training, education and accessibility.
Considering the growing demand of education services and to better target the needs of pupils in special education, the Macau Government Education and Youth Bureau (DSEJ) launched a Consultation Document in 2015 to change the special education system introduced by the 33/1996 Decree-Law. The consultation invited the population to participate in a public debate on special education to eventually set up a more efficient regulatory framework. The Consultation Document proposed to place the children with special education needs in inclusive settings according to three distinct categories:
- students with special education needs being fully included in the regular classrooms
- students with special education needs being educated in the “small class of special education”, i.e. the plqcement inr eguqlr schools with q common curriculum but in separate classes
- students with special education needs being educated in “special education classes”, i.e. in segregated classes with a separate curriculum
More recently, the 10/2017 Law on the Tertiary Education System mandates the state to create equality in tertiary education, adhering to the principle of non-discrimination (art.4). To implement the legal provision, universities have adopted targeted actions, such as the extension of time in examinations; the provision of assistive tools; information dissemination.
Gender equality is enshrined in 1993 Basic Law of the Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR) (art.25), and special protection of women’s rights and interests is also explicitly guaranteed in art. 38(2). The UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women applies to the Macao SAR by virtue of the China’s ratification in 1980, with the reservations made by the latter.
Ethnic and linguistic groups
In accordance to the 1993 Basic Law of the Macao Special Administrative Region, Chinese and Portuguese are the official languages of Macao SAR (art. 9). As established in the 9/2006 Fundamental Law of Non-Tertiary Education, the education system is required to be flexible and diversified to promote the coexistence and harmonious integration of the different communities (art.3.3). Public schools can opt for either Chines or Portuguese as medium of instruction. While private schools can choose a different one prior assessment and authorization by the Education Office, they are required to guarantee the opportunity to learn one of the official languages (art. 37).
Concerning policy, the Non-tertiary Education: Language Education Policy aims to transmit and develop Chinese culture and to promote multiculturalism. It encourages schools to create the conditions to use Putonghua, alongside Chinese and Portuguese.
Based on the 9/2006 Fundamental Law of Non-Tertiary Education’s provisions, free education was extended to upper secondary education starting from the 2007-2008 academic year. Since 2007, the Education Development Fund has supported projects in non-tertiary education, including subsidies provision. Within the free education network, free education subsidies are also allocated to private schools, while learners of schools outside the network are provided with tuition fee subsidies. A meal subsidy and a school supplies subsidy are granted to students from economic disadvantaged households.
Concerning policy, the Ten Year Plan for the Development of Non-Tertiary Education (2011-2020) intends to strengthen the support to learners from poor households.
Gifted and talented students
As provided in the Administrative Regulation 15/2014, the curriculum for gifted and talented children is expected to be adjusted to increase and enrich the learning process. The Ten Year Plan for the Development of Non-Tertiary Education 2011-2020 reaffirms the commitment to promoting education for gifted students.
The Education and Youth Affairs Bureau (EYAB) rolls out after-school classes in English and Chinese and support migrant learners in language learning. Children of illegal migrants are also entitled to education. The 2002 Order of the Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture mandates all educational institutions to authorize access to children in non-tertiary education level that reside in Macao SAR for a period exceeding 90 days at their own expenses.
The Macau Government Education and Youth Bureau (EYAB) is responsible for developing, coordinating, and implementing non-tertiary education and youth policies. Within EYAB, the Centre of Psycho-Pedagogical Service and Special Education is responsible for the provision of special education services. The 2015 Consultation Document invites the government to set up a mechanism of inter-departmental cooperation to review, coordinate and develop policies and services in the sector.
A Commission for Rehabilitation Affairs (CRA), composed of 15 representatives of relevant NGOs, was set up to monitor the execution of the Ten-Year Rehabilitation Programme Plan 2016–2025. It encourages the establishment of a Cross-Departmental Steering Task Force (Steering Task Force) to enhance coordination across government departments involved in services’ provision for persons with disabilities.
In 2005, a Consultative Commission for Women’s Affairs (CCWA) was established to monitor and inform dialogue about policies for women’s rights protection and promotion. Led by the Chief Executive, members of the government and representatives of NGOs, the CCWA is divided in sub-committees, including the one on women’s education and promotional affairs.
To further enhance barrier-free facilities, a Cross-Departmental Working Group was set up in 2016, involving NGOs and associations of persons with disabilities in the formulation of the Barrier-free Universal Design Building Guidelines to integrate the 9/83 Law on the Elimination of Construction Barriers. The Guidelines were ? expected to be implemented in 2018.
In order to operationalize the 9/2006 Fundamental Law, the 2014 Framework of Formal Education Curriculum was introduced by the 15/2014 Administrative Regulation and has been implemented starting from the 2014-2015 school year. In line with the Basic Academic Skills Requirements for Regular Education under the Local School regime, the curriculum framework is developed to meet the requirement for basic academic skills.
The curriculum of students with physical or psychological impairments is expected to cater for the physical and psychological characteristics and needs of learners. In particular, the curriculum for students in inclusive education settings can be adjusted in terms of content and time, while the curriculum of special education classes can vary also in terms of number of subjects. Special education provides a tailored separate study plan.
In the 2017/2018 academic year, the Framework of Formal Education Curriculum was integrated by the Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture’s executive orders that specify the basic academic requirements for junior secondary school education and for senior secondary school education. The reform of the secondary education curricula includes a learner-centerd approach and balanced and diverse curricula content.
The 2015 Consultation Document emphasized theneed to strengthen professional capacity of teaching staff, counsellors and therapists providing them with adequate training based on a learner-centered approach, and according to the professional area. It further encouraged the creation of special education teams to coordinate daily work at school.
Pre-service teacher training consists of a generalist four-year bachelor’s degree in education, while training on pedagogy for children with SEN is provided in post-graduate programmes. The University of Macau provides a course on Inclusive education as elective course within the Pre-Primary Education Specialization programme.
In addition, EYAB organizes training sessions for special educational professionals on how to deal with students with disabilities, including on inclusive education, for instance, through workshops on “Teaching Students with Visual Impairments”, Braille workshops, “Orientation and Mobility Training Courses for Instructors”. Since 2003, EYAB has also organized training opportunities on equal opportunities, sexual education and prevention of violence, targeted at school professionals, students and parents.
The statistical profiles report figures on special education provision, including the number of students, classes, teaching staff, and students’ distribution by age and gender. Data on special education of “inclusive students” are reported separately and disaggregated by gender.