Shanghai highlights youth issues
Education is being given top priority in Shanghai's youth development plan, with the goals of most city youth to receive 12 years of compulsory education by 2010.
The Shanghai Youth Development Plan (2004-10) --the first of its kind in China -- also puts employment,public welfare services, health, leisure, human rights protection and the prevention of juvenile delinquency high on the municipal agenda.
The plan was approved by the Joint Conference for Youth Issues, a 65-person watchdog organization in the city with members from related government organizations.
The document still awaits governmental approval and is subject to change, since all related government and social organizations must agree on the plan.
By the end of last year, Shanghai had more than 9 million 14 to 35-year-old people. Officials hope the youthful population can be improved and through better education and services by 2010 with all the plan's elements implemented.
Currently, the country has a policy of requiring nine years of compulsory education.
The plan estimates there will be more young people coming to Shanghai from other parts of the country looking for various kinds of opportunities in the coming years.
Local government will spend more to guarantee the education rights of youth from outside Shanghai. Officials estimate about 65 per cent of high school graduates will be able to attend college or universities, especially with education loans.
The plan also pledges to try to control the youth unemployment rate within 5 per cent by 2010.
Each community is to create a job agency for young people who have difficulties finding a job.
Local governments will also initiate venture capital and support centres to encourage young people to set up their own businesses.
A recent survey finds that university graduates are facing increasing employment pressure, with 86.8 per cent of college students reporting problems. That's up from 28 per cent over 2000.
At the same time, one-10th of the college students want to start up their own businesses.
Shanghai's renowned 4050 Programme -- launched three years ago to help people in their 40s and 50s to start businesses -- recently changed its name into the "Small Start-up Programme." It will facilitate young people venture with their business.
The programme has created more than 60,000 jobs and 10,000 business owners, with 2,000 separate projects.
The new plan also encourages young people above 18 years old to vote and participate in political affairs. Each district government and Party committee should reach out to the young voices and recruit an official under 35.
Young people are also required to devote 40 hours a year of volunteer public service.
Shanghai will also modify its local regulations to protect young people's legal rights, with the city establishing community drug rehab centres and an independent juvenile tribunal.