Developing Social Security and Public Services for the Disabled

From: English Edition of Qiushi Journal Updated: 2012-10-08 15:10
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I. The current status of our programs for the disabled as well as the tasks we are facing in this regard 

Historic advances were made in the development of programs for the disabled during the period of the Eleventh Five-Year Plan (2006-2010). During this period, the CPC Central Committee and the State Council issued the Guidelines on Promoting the Development of Programs for Persons with Disabilities, outlining important arrangements for our initiatives in regard to persons with disabilities. The Law on the Protection of Persons with Disabilities was revised, and the successful holding of major cultural and sporting events such as the Beijing Paralympic Games and the Guangzhou Asian Para Games helped to create a social atmosphere in which more and more people show care for and assist persons with disabilities. In addition, solid progress was also made in the development of a social security system and a system of public services for persons with disabilities during the Eleventh Five-Year Plan, with both the government and the non-government sector increasing their capacity to serve persons with disabilities by significant margins. The proportion of disabled people covered by social security in urban areas has increased from 34.8% to 60.9%; 96% of rural residents with disabilities have been covered by the new rural cooperative medical care system; and 10 million persons with disabilities in both urban and rural areas are now receiving basic living allowances. Moreover, more than 10 million people with disabilities have taken advantage of rehabilitation services, and the level of education among people with disabilities has constantly risen. An additional 1.8 million people with disabilities have found employment in cities and towns, and the basic living conditions of over 6.1 million impoverished persons with disabilities in rural areas have been ensured through poverty alleviation and development initiatives. As a result, more and more people with disabilities have been able to fulfill their life and career aspirations, leading their lives with dignity and happiness. 

However, we need to be aware that the development of programs for disabled people is still lagging behind in relation to China’s overall level of economic and social development. The overall living conditions of disabled people are still falling significantly short of average living conditions for the population as a whole; social security and public services for disabled people need to be further improved; and there are still major imbalances in the development of programs for the disabled between urban and rural areas and between different regions. In addition, the per capita income of households with disabled persons is only 60% of the national average; a large proportion of disabled children are unable to attend school; more than half of the people in urban areas who are able to work despite disabilities are unable to find work; almost a quarter of disabled persons in urban areas are not covered by any form of social insurance; and about 40% of unemployed disabled residents in urban areas and 70% of unemployed disabled residents in rural areas are reliant on their families to support them. Disabled people are facing new difficulties and pressures in regard to basic living conditions, employment, and social participation, while their personal demands and expectations for better standards of living are becoming increasingly high. 

The Twelfth Five-Year Plan represents an important period of opportunity for the development of programs for the disabled in China. Adhering to the principle of putting people first, the Party and the government have stepped up their efforts to strengthen social development and ensure that the well-being of the public is safeguarded and improved, providing greater policy support for the development of programs for the disabled. Steady economic growth and considerable increases in China’s overall national strength have given us solid material foundations for the development of programs for the disabled. In addition, the establishment of a basic public service system in China and the emergence of a social atmosphere conducive to assisting persons with disabilities have created excellent social conditions for developing programs for disabled persons. 

II. The guiding principles for the development of programs for the disabled during the Twelfth Five-Year Plan

The task of promoting the scientific development of programs for the disabled during the period of the Twelfth Five-Year Plan is as significant as it is arduous and complex. 

Disabled people give a performance at the unveiling ceremony of a comprehensive service center for the disabled in Lanzhou City, Gansu Province. The largest of its kind in Gansu Province, a comprehensive service center for the disabled in Lanzhou’s Chengguan District was launched to coincide with China’s 22nd “National Disability Assistance Day” on May 20, 2012. Nearly 100 million yuan has been invested in the 4,500-square-kilometer service center, which consists of a rehabilitation center, an employment and care service center, a legal aid and counseling center, an administrative service center, and a reading center, as well as a recovery and special education center for disabled children. / Xinhua (photo by Dou Zezhong)

We should remain committed to putting disabled people first in our initiatives with regard to the disabled. We should bear in mind that improving the well-being of disabled people and promoting their all-around development is both the purpose of developing programs for the disabled and the objective that we should work towards in this regard. With a view to resolving the difficulties that disabled people encounter in work and daily life, we should ensure that disabled people enjoy basic living conditions, and make basic public services such as rehabilitation and education available to them. We should actively create conditions for the development of special-needs education, and strive to create jobs suitable for disabled persons, thereby encouraging them to build high self-esteem and self-confidence, to seek self-improvement, and to live independently. We should respect and safeguard the rights of disabled persons to stay informed about, participate in, express views on, and monitor affairs that have a bearing on them. Moreover, we should develop sound mechanisms for the expression of appeals, the protection of rights and interests, and the resolution of conflicts. 

We should develop a sound mode for the running of our programs in which initiatives are led by CPC committees, implemented by the government, and open to non-government participation, and in which the role of organizations for the disabled is fully exerted. We should adhere to a leadership mechanism in which Party committees play an overseeing role while government authorities are responsible for implementation. This will help to ensure that initiatives concerning disabled persons are placed high on the agenda of Party committees and the government. We will exert the role that working committees on persons with disabilities at all levels of government play as a coordinating body, and develop an efficient working mechanism in which all departments, each with their own duties, work together in a concerted effort. We will utilize a range of fiscal and taxation policies to establish a mechanism that will guarantee the steady increase of funding in programs for the disabled. In addition, we will give greater emphasis to the role of the general public by urging the participation of all sectors of society in programs for the disabled. We will also rely more on the role of market forces. These efforts will allow us to create a social atmosphere that is conducive to the sustainable development of programs for the disabled. Efforts to develop organizations for persons with disabilities will also be stepped up. We will strive to ensure that disabled persons’ federations at all levels are better equipped to serve disabled persons, acting as an effective bridge linking the Party and government to persons with disabilities as well as an assistant in the development of programs for disabled persons. 

We should combine generalized preferential treatment with special preferential treatment at the institutional level. Disabled persons must be identified as key beneficiaries of basic public services and social security schemes. Public service agencies should provide disabled people with special assistance and priority services, ensuring that disabled people have equal access to general social security benefits and public services. At the same time, we should also formulate specialized social security programs for disabled persons with special difficulties and needs. Great efforts should be made to develop special services for disabled persons in regard to rehabilitation, special-needs education, employment, obstruction-free environments, and culture and sports. Furthermore, we should bring these services under prescribed institutions and make them more professional and more standardized, so as to ensure that persons with disabilities can secure equal access to social security benefits and services from the outset to the outcome. Efforts to develop a dedicated social security system and public service system for disabled persons should be given top priority. 

We should step up our efforts to carry out basic initiatives and make the management of programs for the disabled more scientific. We should make differential plans in accordance with local realities in an effort to promote the balanced development of programs for the disabled between urban and rural areas and between different regions. In China’s western regions, efforts should be focused on addressing the pressing needs of disabled persons in regard to basic living conditions, education, medical care, and employment. In central regions, accelerated efforts should be made to bring social security benefits and public services for disabled persons closer to the average level of benefits and services for the general public. In eastern regions, overall efforts should be made to raise the level of social security and public services to meet the needs of disabled persons, and to lead the way in bringing social security and public services for disabled persons under well-defined institutions and professional standards. In line with requirements for the integration of urban and rural areas, we will make greater efforts to assist disabled rural residents in their work and daily lives, and improve the social security system and service facilities for disabled persons in rural areas. Through these efforts, we will accelerate the integration of social safety nets and the realization of equal access to basic public services for disabled persons in both urban and rural areas. We should ensure that local organizations in urban and rural areas fulfill their responsibilities in regard to programs for the disabled, and enhance the capacity of these organizations to serve disabled persons in their localities. We should collect more basic data related to programs for the disabled, strengthen our statistical monitoring and performance evaluation in regard to the implementation of policies and schemes, and step up the study of theories and practices concerning programs for the disabled, thereby promoting constant advances in our efforts to make the management of social security and public services for disabled persons more scientific. 

III. Key tasks for the development of programs for the disabled during the Twelfth Five-Year Plan

We should guarantee the basic living conditions of impoverished disabled people and make basic rehabilitation services available to every disabled person. Social security acts as a vital safety net guaranteeing the basic well-being of people with disabilities. Therefore, we will implement a policy of subsidizing social security contributions made by disabled people in order to ensure that persons with disabilities are covered by basic pension insurance and basic medical insurance. At the same time, basic rehabilitation services for the disabled will be gradually incorporated into our health care system. We will ensure that all disabled persons in urban and rural areas receive the basic living allowances that they are entitled to, and increase the level of social aid benefits for low-income disabled persons. We will speed up our plans to grant living allowances for impoverished disabled persons, nursing subsidies for persons with serious disabilities, and subsidies for the purchase of disability aids. At the same time, we will broaden the scope of social welfare for the disabled and accordingly enhance the standard of social welfare benefits in an effort to develop a social welfare system for disabled persons that better reflects the level of economic and social development in China. We will launch a number of charity projects for the assistance of disabled persons, and promote the rapid development of charity programs for persons with disabilities. We will do more to encourage various sectors of society to provide rehabilitation and nursing services for disabled persons, and carry out rehabilitation services in communities. By providing rehabilitation services, we will help disabled people to recover from or compensate for their disabilities, thereby better equipping them to live independently, adapt to society, and participate equally in social affairs.  

We should significantly raise the level of education among disabled people and explore a range of measures to promote employment for the disabled. A comprehensive and high-quality education is essential if disabled people are to participate equally in social affairs and in the distribution of social resources, and crucial if they are to build up self-esteem and self-confidence, seek self-improvement, and live independently. Therefore, we should further improve our arrangements for the education of disabled people, and ensure that compulsory education is available to all school-aged disabled children. We will develop pre-school rehabilitative education, and subsidize disabled children who receive general pre-school education. In addition, in order to speed up the development of senior middle-school education and higher education for disabled students, we will gradually provide senior middle-school education free of charge and make major efforts to develop vocational education for disabled students. We will develop a sound mechanism to provide assurance for special-needs education, and improve policies on educational assistance for disabled students. We will strengthen policy measures aimed at providing disabled people with employment protection and furthering their employment opportunities, and devote major efforts to creating jobs that are suited to the disabled. We will conscientiously implement the Outline for Poverty Alleviation of Rural Disabled Persons Through Development (2011-2020), and increase the aid that we provide to disabled rural residents in regard to everyday life and work. Continued efforts will be made to lift disabled people out of poverty through the provision of rehabilitation services. 

We should promote the vigorous development and thriving of cultural initiatives for the disabled and satisfy the non-material and cultural demands of disabled people. We must fully convey and implement the guidelines of the Decision of the CPC Central Committee on Major Issues Pertaining to Deepening Reform of the Cultural System and Promoting the Great Development and Flourishing of Socialist Culture, which was passed at the Sixth Plenary Session of the Seventeenth Central Committee of the CPC. Taking the system of core socialist values as our guide, concentrating our efforts on meeting the non-material and cultural needs of disabled persons, and putting people and services first, we will improve cultural service facilities for disabled persons, develop welfare- and public-oriented cultural programs for people with disabilities, and enrich the non-material and cultural lives of the disabled. We will implement programs for cultural development in regard to disabled persons, promote the balanced development of recreational sports and competitive sports for disabled people, and make efforts to enhance the standard of competitive sporting activities.

We should make greater efforts in the prevention of disabilities and effectively reduce the incidence and development of disabilities. Rapid industrialization, urbanization, and an aging population have led to a spike in the incidence of disabilities in China. Therefore, we should identify the prevention of disabilities as a key strategic aspect of programs for the disabled during the period of the Twelfth Five-Year Plan. On this basis, we should formulate and implement a national action plan for the prevention of disabilities, establish a comprehensive network for the prevention and control of disabilities through government and non-government efforts, and develop a system for the prevention of disabilities which is characterized by accurate information, scientific methods, sound management, resource sharing, and effective monitoring. Key projects for the prevention of disabilities will be carried out, and efforts will be made to raise public awareness regarding the prevention of disabilities, so as to effectively reduce the incidence of disabilities and prevent people’s disabilities from worsening. 

We should emphasize the development of basic conditions and promote the sustainable development of social security and public service systems for disabled people. In an effort to further improve policies, laws and regulations on social security and services for the disabled, we will carefully implement the Law on the Protection of Persons with Disabilities; formulate regulations on obstruction-free environments, disability prevention, and rehabilitation; and revise the Regulations on the Education of Persons with Disabilities. We will improve our overall planning of service facilities for the disabled, and increase the level of funding and support that is provided for the development of such facilities. We will promote technological innovation in programs for the disabled, apply new advances in science and technology in these programs, and improve statistical indices in regard to social security and public services for disabled people. We will encourage the private sector to invest in social welfare programs for the disabled, and strongly advocate the development of volunteer services for persons with disabilities. We will make efforts to establish a sound national mechanism to ensure effective implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

We should strengthen the development of organizations for the disabled and ensure that these organizations fully perform their functions in regard to social management and public services. In response to new requirements for improvements and innovations in social management, disabled persons’ federations at all levels should promote the development of their organizations, further improve their attitudes and styles of work, and constantly enhance their ability to serve disabled people. People working in programs for the disabled should maintain sound professional ethics, such as being humane, upright, and dedicated, and work with great passion and enthusiasm to wholeheartedly serve the disabled, assist the government, and rally the public. On this basis, they should make solid efforts to carry out the various initiatives pertaining to disabled persons during the period of the Twelfth Five-Year Plan.


(Originally appeared in Qiushi Journal, Chinese edition, No.6, 2012)

Author: Secretary of the Leading Party Group and President of the China Disabled Persons’ Federation

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