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Volunteer efforts to be recorded, rewarded

By He Dan  (China Daily)

09:26, September 28, 2012

China is to establish a set of rules for recording and grading the work of volunteers, according to draft regulations released by the Ministry of Civil Affairs on Thursday.

The document says organizations that use volunteers should appoint personnel to administer volunteer records. They should also count the number of hours worked and evaluate the quality of work, it adds.

The government will also introduce a grading system for volunteers depending on the number of hours worked. Individuals who work 100 hours will be recognized as one-star volunteers, 300 hours as two-star volunteers, 600 hours as three-star volunteers, 1,000 hours as four-star volunteers, and 1,500 hours as five-star volunteers.

The intention is to encourage more volunteerism, but the draft had a mixed response.

Liu Ping, who spends at least four hours a week as a volunteer helping childless parents, said he welcomed the draft policies.

"Keeping a record is good because it will help us to look back on what we have done and draw lessons from it," said the 49-year-old worker in a railway company in Nanchang, East China's Jiangxi province.

Tian Xixi, a student from Guangzhou, was less enthusiastic about the proposed system, and said the government should "think again".

"People should not volunteer for personal gain, but if the regulations bind volunteering together with rewards, some people will volunteer for the wrong reasons," said the 20-year-old.

"It will be difficult to know if they really care about helping others."

The draft suggests employers and academic institutions favor volunteers and encourages organizations to explore giving them free services depending on the amount of volunteer work they do.

Museums, public libraries, sports venues, parks and tourist attractions are also encouraged to provide free or discounted tickets for volunteers.

Statistics from the Communist Youth League Central Committee recorded 34 million registered volunteers nationwide, who did at least 48 hours of voluntary work by 2011.

According to a report conducted by Tsinghua University and Beijing Normal University, adults on the mainland volunteered for 15.8 billion hours in 2010. Their voluntary hours were worth about 108.8 billion yuan ($17.3 billion), or 0.27 percent of China's GDP, the report said

Keeping a record of volunteer activity will help governmental departments make better use of volunteer resources and better protect the rights of volunteers, according to a statement on the ministry's website.

Deng Guosheng, director of the NGO research center at Tsinghua University, said volunteering is a fledging sector on the Chinese mainland that requires the government to design rules to guide its development.

"Recording of voluntary services is the first step. The government should work hard on supervision and establish a sound insurance system to encourage more people to participate in volunteering," he said.

He added that the government should also consider including guidelines for recording work done by foreign volunteers, who are growing in number on the mainland.

The draft rules will be on the ministry's website for public comment until Oct 10.

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