To change, China has hard nuts to crack

Updated: 2014-03-11 16:10


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In Chengdu, it costs as much as 20,000 yuan per square meter.

"It is not difficult for my child to enrol in a school, but it is very difficult to get access to a 'key' school," Wang said.

In his government work report, Li promised to provide quality education to the next generation and ensure all children have an equal opportunity to develop.

Ning Guiling, vice president of Dalian University of Technology, said the government should set up a more balanced and long-term system for spending on education to prevent significant disparities, especially between those among urban and rural areas.

To change, China has hard nuts to crack

Education reform pushed forward 

While parents like Wang are worried about education for the next generation, the swelling elderly population is also a tough burden for China to cope with.

Mao Xinmeng, 68, in Hangzhou city in east China's Zhejiang province has been living alone since his wife passed away several years ago. With a monthly retirement insurance of about 2,000 yuan, he does not know how long he will have to wait until he can afford a bed in a care home.

Mao rarely meets his only daughter who is married and works in another city far from home. "They (my daughter and her husband) have a child to raise. Even though they want to take care of me, their income is too low for them to do so."

Mao is one of the 200 million elderly people aged above 60. The number is estimated to top 300 million in 2025.

While 10 million workers are needed for elderly care services, China only has 220,000, only 10 percent of whom are qualified, said Ma Xu, director of the institute of sciences and technologies under the National Health and Family Planning Commission.

Besides the lack of money, another challenge is that Chinese people do not enjoy equal pensions.

The monthly retirement pension for government employees is about 5,000 yuan, while for workers in state-owned-enterprises like Mao it is only about 2,000 yuan. The pension for farmers is as low as 80 yuan per month.

The government has pledged to establish a unified basic old-age insurance system for both rural and non-working urban residents and improve the way it is linked with the old-age insurance system for working people.

For many, changes may not come soon enough.