Social organizations need better legislation: lawmakers

Although it seems Shanghai has developed a quite mature environment for social organizations, there is still space to improve, lawmakers said.

The city's lawmakers called for better legislation for social organizations on Wednesday.

Recent years have witnessed significant growth of the city's social organizations. By November 30, there were 16,118 registered social organizations in Shanghai, 17.7 percent more than in 2015.

Shanghai Xintiandi Charity and Voluntary Services, located at 105 Puyu Road W. in Huangpu District, provided a glimpse of how a city can provide facilities to social organizations.

The group is home to 36 social organizations. Their services cover the elderly, education for teenagers, rehabilitation and education for the mentally challenged, and community services.

World of Art Brut Culture is one of the organizations located there. Established in 2010, WABC is an organization providing art lessons for those suffering autism or amentia.

“Last year, more than 2,000 people, mostly kids and teenagers, came to us,” said Zhao Wenqing from WABC. “All the lessons are free.”

The paintings by the students will be collected or sold, with copyright reserved by the students.

Although it seems Shanghai has developed a quite mature environment for social organizations, there is still space to improve, lawmakers said.

Sun Jun, the director of the social organization service center of Xiayang subdistrict in Qingpu, and a lawmaker of the city, said there is a huge gap between urban and rural areas in recognizing the importance and functions of social organizations.

“Such a gap also reflects on officials,” Sun said. “While some consider the social organizations as subordinate bodies, many officials are not good at managing social organizations after they set them up.”

Sun urged the city to further regulate the funding and founding of social organizations to narrow the gap so those in rural areas will have more money and a better environment to provide services.

Peng Lan, the director of Zhonglou neighborhood committee in Jinshan District, also pointed out that although they know what those at the grassroots need, they don’t really have much money to offer good quality services.

The city will continue to cultivate more professionals to operate social organizations, said Jiang Rui, deputy head of Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau.

Gao Xiaomei, deputy director of the Standing Committee of the Shanghai People's Congress, said the city will need to have a better position on what social organizations can and should do for the public.

“We have developed a fairly large number of social organizations, which is a good thing,” Gao said. “But that also means we need to lift the bars of management so that they will yield the greatest returns to the public.”

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