In this article, the authors investigated how families of Xinjiang class students perceive the benefits of the Xinjiang class policy for students. Based on the work of Melanie Walker, the authors adopted the capability approach as an analytical tool and collected data through in-depth interviews with families of Xinjiang class students over three months of fieldwork in Xinjiang and eastern China. The authors obtained a list of seven functional capabilities that illuminate the value of Xinjiang class education, and complaints that need to be addressed in the future. The results demonstrate how the benefits of Xinjiang class education, from a familial perspective, accrue to students, their families, as well as to the wider community. Also, the findings reveal that agency of parents is limited in this educational process. The authors propose that a pretransition program and improved communication between parents and teachers would facilitate better outcomes for students and their families, and ultimately result in more effective implementation of Xinjiang class policy.


Functional Capabilities, Xinjiang Class Policy, Ethnic Minority Students, Agency, Qualitative Research

Author Bio(s)

Xin Su is currently a lecturer at School of Education, Henan University, Kaifeng, China. She has obtained her PhD degree from the Department of Educational Studies, Macquarie University. Her research focuses on ethnic minority education in China, especially those from Xinjiang. Please direct correspondence to xin.su@henu.edu.cn.

A/P Neil Harrison works at School of Education, Macquarie University, he has worked in Indigenous education as a primary, secondary and tertiary teacher, and has over 30 years of teaching and research experience in the field. Neil's current research focuses on teaching about the experiences of trauma, and in particular teaching difficult histories.

Dr. Robyn Moloney used to teach in the Department of Educational Studies, Macquarie University, and she is now a professional casual staff at Macquarie University. She is a language educator with 30 years’ experience. Robyn's research interests include issues of intercultural language and development.


This research was co-funded by the Chinese Scholarship Council and Macquarie University Research Excellence Scholarship (CSC-MQ) under Grant number 201608330242.

Publication Date


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.





To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.