Ru­ral res­i­dents top pri­or­ity for so­cial aid

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT - RE­PORTS OF A 20-YEAR-OLD STU­DENT IN CHENGDU,

South­west China’s Sichuan prov­ince, who looks af­ter her 93-year-old grand­mother on her own when not in class, have given rise to heated de­bate over the coun­try’s so­cial se­cu­rity sys­tem. Guangzhou Daily com­mented on Wed­nes­day:

It is a sad story that the Chengdu stu­dent had to take care of her aged, im­mo­bile grand­mother af­ter the stu­dent lost her fa­ther four months ago. But her strong will and fil­ial piety have made it less heart­break­ing, es­pe­cially as she has re­fused to take do­na­tions from good Sa­mar­i­tans be­cause her part-time salary cov­ers most of the daily costs.

Touch­ing as her story is, it war­rants deeper re­flec­tion on what has gone wrong in the so­cial se­cu­rity sys­tem, which has failed to of­fer proper as­sis­tance to her fam­ily. In­stant me­dia cov­er­age and peo­ple’s sub­se­quent vol­un­tary do­na­tions are not enough to ease the hard­ships that many embattled fam­i­lies are go­ing through.

It is praise­wor­thy that the Chengdu girl of­fered to care for a se­nior fam­ily mem­ber. And she is not alone since in ru­ral China many young peo­ple bear such re­spon­si­bil­ity be­cause their par­ents are away work­ing

in big cities as im­mi­grants.

How­ever, they might be over­bur­dened given their course­work and lim­ited chan­nels to make money to sup­port the fam­ily at an early age. Those manag­ing to get by like the Chengdu stu­dent are in fact few. Those hav­ing the “lux­ury” of be­ing re­ported by the me­dia may be even less.

The need to pro­vide af­ford­able care ser­vice to ru­ral el­derly res­i­dents is strik­ing. For ex­am­ple, in the case of the Chengdu stu­dent, a proper nurs­ing home would be of great help to her and her grand­mother.

In ur­ban com­mu­ni­ties, young peo­ple that face such dif­fi­cul­ties are more likely to get through the hard­ships be­cause of their eas­ier ac­cess to as­sis­tance of­fered by lo­cal gov­ern­ments and bet­ter fi­nan­cial con­di­tions. Ru­ral res­i­dents should be the pri­or­ity of gov­ern­men­tal care re­gard­less of whether they hit the head­lines or not.

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