In a Skype call to friends Lynne and Martin earlier this week, I speculated that there may be a ban against pan-handling of any kind, with the exception of begging done by disabled elderly. We see no beggars with the odd exception being seriously disabled elderly folks who sit outside the Jian ‘An Temple, close to where we stay in Shanghai. It got me thinking about the elderly and so when I read the English language China Daily this week, my eye caught one headline stating 600 Hospices for disabled seniors to be built by 2015. The country is seriously short of services as there are 3.3 million elderly people unable to care for themselves with 1.1 fully dependent on nursing.
In other news, some parents are spending more than 10% of family income on extra math classes (Math Olympiad contests) to ensure their child gets a spot in a good middle school. That’s right, elementary aged kids are spending hours studying math and their parents’ money trying to get a leg up into a decent school. This article brought to mind the outcry (finally) of the problem with Charter schools in the U.S.A.. Simply stated, those who have, do better and those who don’t, get left behind in less than stellar schools. Long live the Canadian education model with all its flaws. At least everyone can be guaranteed a high/decent standard of education.
Speaking of left behind, the biggest story lately is about the “Left-Behind Kids,” those children whose parents leave their kids in their rural communities while they head to the cities to find work. It is not clear to me how “left behind” they really are, ie, who is looking after them, if anyone? What is clear is that they are not getting the care, attention or education they should be and of course, this spells a problem for the future. The paper suggested that in 2011, there were 22 million migrant workers and that today there are as many as 58 million. If each couple left only one child behind, that’s still a lot of children who are lacking a reasonable standard of care, stability and family love.
One article that caught my attention was called “The Imperfect Art of China Bashing” which suggested that foreign writers should leave off attacking China for child labour (which is largely unfounded) and focus instead on the single child little princes and princesses who are spoiled and do no work.
In this article, attention was brought to the widening gap between the haves and the have-nots, illustrated by a satirical cartoon showing one large glass with one large person sucking up the contents with his straw while 10 others, all much smaller, competed for their share of the drink. Reference was made to a twitter comment from a ‘princess’ extolling the virtues of her father who had mangaged to procure a $32, 000 dress for her for her birthday. Meanwhile, 128 million people live on less than 6Y ($1) a day. Is there unrest in China? I think so.
Finally, the internet is the people’s tool against abusive officials. In one case only 63 hours stood between the posting of a blog about a teenage mistress and the dismissal of the official from power.
Interesting, isn’t it?