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Enabling the Disabled

Time Distribution :2011-11-10 13:42:32author:YIN PUMIN source: view count:0 Friend Comments 0 strip

China tries to improve the quality of life for disabled people

Based on achievements during the past five years, people with disabilities in China will have greater access to education and employment during the 12th Five-Year Plan period (2011-15), said Wang Naikun, Executive Vice President of the China Disabled Persons' Federation (CDPF).

Wang told a press conference of the State Council Information Office on December 7 disabled people across China have earned higher incomes and better social welfare as well as public and rehabilitation services over the past five years.

"Thanks to a slew of government measures, disabled people now enjoy a moderate standard of living," said Wang.

Government spending on programs for the disabled for the 2006-10 period more than double that of the previous five years. The increased funding goes into improving vocational training and employment services for the disabled.

The government has provided 4 billion yuan ($585.65 million) in subsidized loans since 2006 to help people with disabilities in rural areas start up small businesses, including breeding and planting.

This program lifted more than 6 million disabled people out of poverty. Nearly 18 million disabled people in rural areas now earn more income through such job programs.

The government has also launched programs to ensure disabled people have equal access to educational, healthcare and other social welfare services as other people.

In 2008, the government made a plan to renovate and build 1,160 special schools for disabled children in central and western areas, with 300 of them now completed.

Official statistics show the school enrollment rate of disabled children has risen in recent years. By the end of 2009, there were 1,672 special schools for disabled children, with 428,000 students.

"Education and employment are the key factors for the survival and development of people with disabilities," said CDPF's Wang. "These two issues will be highlighted in the government's work program for the disabled during the 12th Five-Year Plan period."

She said cities and towns with a population of more than 300,000 will be required to build special education schools in the next five years. In addition, special education classes will be set up in public schools for preschool-aged disabled children.

Concerning social welfare, she said nearly 95 percent of disabled people in rural areas are part of a healthcare insurance program and 2.38 million in urban areas received minimum subsistence allowances from the government in the 2006-10 period.

Despite the government's continuous spending on programs for people with disabilities in recent years, their living standards remain lower than the national average. This was especially true for people living with disabilities in rural areas, who account for 70 percent of the total.

According to a report based on a nationwide survey of 32,600 people conducted over one year from April 2009, about 29 percent of school-aged children with disabilities were left out of nine-year compulsory education.

The report, released on December 1, also said disabled people's registered unemployment rate in cities was 8.6 percent, twice the general level of urban residents.

Moreover, the report said more than half of disabled people tried to find jobs through personal connections, which is an indication that job services for disabled people should be further improved.

Wang blamed the imbalanced economic and social development for the gap between the disabled and other people.

She said China's huge population, more than 70 percent of whom reside in vast less developed rural areas, has posed more difficulties for the improvement of work and life of people with disabilities.

There are 83 million people with disabilities in China, and the number is expected to surpass 100 million in five years.

According to a government plan published in 2004, every disabled person in the country will have access to rehabilitation services by 2015.

Last year, China initiated a two-year campaign to train professional workers to nurse disabled people.

From October 2009 to the end of 2011, experts on disabled rehabilitation will tour the country training professionals and executives in public and private rehabilitation institutions, according to the CDPF. The courses mainly focus on rehabilitation skills and the management of rehabilitation institutions.

By 2009, only about 30 percent of disabled people in China had received rehabilitation services, official statistics show.

"As a country with a large disabled population, China should do more to improve social security and social services for its people with disabilities," said Cheng Kai, another Vice President of CDPF.