Relevant status issues of people with special needs in the Republic of Kazakhstan

Table of contents: The Kazakh-American Free University Academic Journal №8 - 2016

Author: Kozhuganova Dinara, Kazakh-American Free University, Kazakhstan

The Republic of Kazakhstan positions itself as a social society, which is explained by the intention of the state to sustain deserving life of government and the people. However, like many other states, Kazakhstan faces various issues and legislative collisions that require scientific solution. Including the matters of social care service and employment of people with special needs.

Due to the fact this article will be devoted to the research of the series of issues related to the status of people with special needs, and, also, solutions resolving these problems.

It is necessary to begin the research with relevant issues regarding employment of people with special needs. These people need special government policy. Nowadays, people with special needs have different kinds of privileges in the taxation and employment lawmaking and housing legislation, because of their vulnerable position in society. They are free of paying governmental duties and fees, have lower taxation rates, primary receivable of housing, have employment quotas, and this is not a complete list of items in government care service.

So, a person with special needs is an individual having health disorders resulting as constant body failures, traumas, and defects leading to limited vital functions and a need of social protection.

According to the UN data, there are about 450 million of people with physical and mental disabilities in the world. People unable to work are treated with special care by any state. The main type of support is financial help for these people (pensions, exemptions, and other benefits). But these people need not only financial support, but also professional rehabilitation [1].

Social security of people with special needs is regulated by the Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan “On Social Security of People with Special Needs in the Republic of Kazakhstan” and other legal acts.

The norms of employment and support of local governmental executive bodies in order to provide professional education are regulated in articles 31, 32 of the Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan “On Social Security of People with Special Needs in the Republic of Kazakhstan”. To fulfill the norms, in every region of Kazakhstan akims introduced 3% employment quotas of overall amount of work places. However, indeed, employment of people with special needs is not going up to 3%. It is rather hard to employ these people on the workplaces covered by quotas. One of the reasons of employers’ denial to hire people with special needs is their inability to use their labor on current vacancies because of their physical defects and lack of work places.

It is necessary to increase the employment rate of people with special needs. Educated individuals with special needs should work at the places where they can work, and if there are no such places, they should be created. There is legal data base and budget annually given out by the government to create work places for these kinds of individuals [2, p. 15].

Besides, we would like to draw your attention to the fact that not every item of abovementioned articles is being fully implemented. We think that the following legal statements within governmental programs are not well-developed:

- creating work places for people with special needs through development of entrepreneurship, small and medium businesses;

- creating special and social work places for employment of people with special needs according to the Laws of the Republic of Kazakhstan;

- arrangement of professional education for people with special needs (article 31 paragraphs 2,3,4 of the before mentioned Law)

The goal of this proposal is to encourage people with special needs to do steady jobs and to become successful entrepreneurs.

The Lawmaking does not consider the fact that an employer needs a worker, not a person with disabilities. A full labor rehabilitation means to turn a person with disabilities into a worker. However, we need special conditions for that. The most effective order of actions is to turn a person with special needs into a worker and then employ them, but not the other way around. Professional training and education of people with special needs is the main aspect of their professional rehabilitation [3, p. 30].

Most of unemployed people with disabilities in the Republic of Kazakhstan are the people with general secondary education without professional training.

Special education institutions do not prepare people with disabilities well enough to make them competitive, and some of them prepare professionals who will definitely not be needed. It is mainly defined by the following reasons: professionals of Medical-social expert commission (MSEC), who organize professional orientation of people with disabilities do not have enough information about entering requirements to higher education institutions and other educational institutions, and rely on the will of people with disabilities themselves; people with special needs do not have enough information about requirements of entering higher education institutions.

Educational institutions are not accommodated for people who need special equipment and special methodology of education. Because of that, the number of majors appropriate for such people is limited and professional prejudices are formed [4, p. 7].

In order to organize professional education for people with special needs we propose to organize “Service Sector for People with Special Needs” with the help of executive bodies, which will be supplied with special equipment and utilities for working with people with special needs (hand rails, wheeled chairs, etc.). The main goal of the sector is to teach computer literacy, taxation, getting services online, provide psychological help to adapt to current market conditions, teaching how to find a job, and other services related to rehabilitation of people with special needs and protection of their legitimate rights and interests. To make it more convenient, we propose to place it on the first floors of the buildings of local executive bodies of all levels (from republican up to municipal) [5, p. 12].

What will it do? Increase of motivation to study and increase of education level among people with disabilities. With the growth of the level of professional preparation grows the qualification self-assessment and the certainty of future success.

The creation of legislative basis of social protection of people with disabilities provides additional guarantees of employment. However, the normative basis of social protection and the mechanism of labor supply still need further improvement. In order to complete it, we need:

1) to add the norms protecting people with special needs from discrimination and from unfounded denial of job applications. For that to the Article 222 “Realization of Rights to Work by People with Special Needs” of the Labor Codex of the Republic of Kazakhstan [6] paragraph 3 should be added: “Unfounded denial of hiring or signing a job agreement leads to amenability according to the Laws of the Republic of Kazakhstan”;

2) to establish additional guarantees and additional social benefits for people with special needs fired by employer’s initiative. For that to the Article 32 “Rights of People with Special Needs in the Field of Labor Relationships” of the Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan “On Social Protection of the Population” paragraph 4 should be added, to the Article 56 “The Order of Cancellation of the Employment Contract by the Employer’s Initiative” of the Labor Codex of the Republic of Kazakhstan paragraph 9 should be added mentioning: “Firing people with disabilities, parents, custodians of children with disabilities, including drawing down, excluding firing because of proved reasons, is not allowed without agreement of social organizations protecting people with special needs.” People with special needs should have a privilege to stay at work in a case of drawing down;

3) to establish the reliable normative acts considering work place costs, which will allow to fine employers denying people with special needs to provide work places guaranteed by quotas.

Professional rehabilitation of people with special needs together with their further employment is financially beneficial for the government, because the money spent on the rehabilitation will be drawn back as taxes that are the results of employment. The attention to the people with special needs should be more focused. Kazakhstan should become a place of free choice for them. To take care of these people, whose number is not few, is our duty and civil obligation. People do it all around the world. People with special needs can be involved in domestic services, food industry, agriculture [7, p. 36].

One of the most important aspects of the status of people with disabilities is improving the lawmaking of the Republic of Kazakhstan in the sphere of special at-home services for the elderly people [8, p. 58]. Human Rights Commissioner in the Republic of Kazakhstan prepared a report “On Following the Rights of Elderly People in the Republic of Kazakhstan” as the most vulnerable social group, where he described all the issues that our elderly people face.

Unfortunately, for the latest years, the quality of life of elderly population has not been dramatically improved, and a lot of problems mentioned in the Report have not been solved despite the innovations in lawmaking, and they are still relevant.

According to the analysis of the needs of veterans and workers of the rear (social fund “The Council of Veterans”) the most important problems have been worked out:

1) Lack of high quality social services at-home for lonely people and elderly people with special needs.

2) Lack of access to the social services at-home for the most needy elderly people because of legislative and bureaucratic barriers.

3) Lack of effective protection of elderly people and elderly people with special needs from domestic violence and other unlawful actions.

According to the analysis of the abovementioned problems and current lawmaking of the Republic of Kazakhstan the author proposes the solutions considering both worldwide and the UN experience in providing support for socially vulnerable individuals.

According to the statistic data, on average, a social worker supports 7-8 people. Besides, the organization of social help at-home is given a rather low amount of money for this individual. Monthly salary of a social worker is a little bit more than 40000 tenge.

In the abovementioned Report of the Human Rights Commissioner in the Republic of Kazakhstan (section 3.3. Social services for elderly people) low development level of the social services, low level of workers' professionalism, lack of branches of social support at-home and social workers are mentioned as the main problems.

Since the time of publishing of the report, in 2008 the Law “On Special Social Services” has been established, on the basis of which the Standard of Special Social Services (SSSS) was created to support the population at-home [10]. Currently, the Standard of 2015 is functioning now.

However, according to the analysis of the standards and legal practices the problems in this sphere are still taking place:

1) Impossibility of practical implementation of the Standards because of the current system of using social services workers’ labor.

The Standard (Chapter 5) lists the types of services, including social, medical, psychological, cultural, economic, legislative services, which the social worker should perform for elder people. Also the Standard discusses the requirements for the quality of the services. If we take a certain set of social and legal services, we can see the following services and their requirements:

Clause 46:

2) consulting of the recipients on the legislative topics (civil, accommodation, family, labor, pension, criminal and other legal issues) gives them full understanding of their rights and laws protecting them according to their interests;

3) helping with complains on misacting or inappropriate actions from government representatives means helping to explain the issue correctly, to ask for its elimination and send the letter to recipient;

In total, there are 45 types of services for elderly people in the Standard, and one sector explains 11 types of social-legislative services only. But only looking at this example, we understand such work can be done only by a qualified lawyer, not a social worker, who should also be a qualified medic, psychologist, economist, etc. However, it is impossible, because there is not any higher educational institution that can prepare this kind of a specialist who can fulfill all the types of services from the Standard.

We must notice that the question of the social worker’s qualification is discussed very poorly in the Law: in the Article 1 paragraph 6 the social worker is defined as a person performing special social services and (or) performing an assessment and definition of the needs of the special social services, having necessary qualification meeting the very requirements. The term “necessary qualification” refers to the order of the Minister of Healthcare of the Republic of Kazakhstan (March 16, 2009) № 134 “On Confirmation of Qualification Requirements to the Social Workers in the Sphere of Healthcare and the Rules of their Attestation”, which says that a social worker must have higher education degree in the sphere of social services with medical, psychological and pedagogical profiles. Which means that qualification requirements are valid only for social workers who perform social-medical services, the rest of which are not covered. However, to perform legislative and economic assistance social workers should have a degree in those spheres [11].

Also the Standard states the Minimum of the staff members in the organization of this type, which states that a social worker should work with 8 elderly people and people with special needs at least twice a week. According to the statistics, a social worker can spend maximum 2,5 hours visiting a person during a 40 hour-work week. The logical question is: What kind of services a social worker can perform during 2,5 hours? Practically, according to the data provided by the veterans and workers of the rear and given by the social fund “The Council of Veterans”, the social workers perform only a minimum of the required services – they clean the apartments, buy food and medication spending the money of the elderly people. It cannot be said that they cover the whole list of domestic assistance, including help with food preparation, stoking the fire, delivery of woods, coal and drinking water , giving clothes to the laundry or dry cleaner's, mending and redelivery; help with washing, repairs arrangement, house cleaning, etc. In fact, besides the certain types of domestic assistance, elderly people are deprived of other social services [12].

So, the Standard cannot be implemented because of the obvious reasons: the required services are neither performed nor their quality is very low because of insufficient usage of social workers' labor.

Proposed changes:

The system of helping elder people and people with special needs at home should be significantly changed. Instead of having one worker doing everything, it would be more rational to have different mobile groups of social workers for different spheres. A team of social workers should have different categories of professionals, who would perform social services - doctor-gerontologist, psychologist, economist, lawyer, cook, and technical staff.

For the coordination and interaction of the teams of social help a unified service desk, a hot line, should be created, so people would be able to address in case of emergency, to get a qualified legal help.

The work of social workers' teams will help to achieve the following qualitative changes:

1) Increasing service quality for elderly people's needs, even in case of emergency.

2) Decrease of recipient's dependence on a social worker, and prevention of unlawful actions done by social workers.

3) Rational usage of knowledge, professional and personal skills of the social workers, differential approach to social worker's labor.

4) Possibility of regular monitoring and assessment of the performed services quality.

The system of social services provided by special teams can also include fee-paying services for elderly people and people with special needs who live with their adult children and relatives on their account, as taking care of elderly people requires certain knowledge and skills which may not be guaranteed at home. Because of that fee-paying services the governmental organization will be able to provide a part of its own budget which will lessen the pressure of governmental budget and provide an opportunity to hire additional staff and increase salaries while making this job more wanted on labor market.

2) The current Standard is not involving all elderly people who need special services.

According to the law “On Special Social Services (SSS)” SSS are performed for people with hard living situation (Article 1), including “disability to help yourself because of old age, illness, and (or) physical disability.” (Article 6, paragraph 7).

However, the Standard limits the audience of elderly people who can have SSS performed (paragraphs 5(4)): "SSS are performed for people with special needs and elderly people after their retirement, unable to take care of themselves and having a need of SSS at home, not having working adult children, obliged by the law to take care of their parents, or not having close relatives who cannot perform assistance because of legitimate reasons (old age, physical disability of I, II groups, oncological, psychological diseases, convicts or they moved to a foreign country or live in another settlement).

We consider that the current Standard does not include the people who live with their adult children but suffer from abuse from their side, including physical, psychological, economic abuse. Indeed, elderly people rarely address the police explaining their unwillingness to worsen the relationship with their abusive children. Those people are not eligible for having SSS at home because of their adult children, but the Standard does not consider the psychological and emotional climate in the family. Even if those people move out from their children's, they will still not be eligible for the SSS.

We suggest to introduce other additional reasons of having SSS at home to the Standard; the reasons that do not give any right for adult children to take care of their disabled children: “In exceptional cases by the decision of the legislative unit and recommendations from specialized social organizations working with elderly people (for example “The Council of Veterans”) the SSS can be performed for elderly people, people with physical disability of the first, second groups having close adult relatives who can work and the cohabitation with whom is impossible due to conflicts.” This norm will allow to protect elderly people from the abuse, and will let them move out having a qualitative treatment from social workers.

We consider that those changes will lead to the following positive consequences:

1) Increase of social services quality for elderly people, preventing their social isolation.

2) Increase of the quality of life of elderly people, their lifespan, and the population of the country.

3) Increase of legislative culture of elderly people: knowing their rights will let them to defend their rights and lessen a chance of unlawful actions towards them.

In the context of afore mentioned, we can state that a new law protecting elderly people is necessary. While considering that we addressed the statistics. By January 1st, 2017 10% of the population of Kazakhstan are retired [13]. This is a special group of people that have special needs and that cannot sustain themselves financially without support. That is why they need special protection from the government.

Nowadays there are no universal legislative act stating the rights and freedoms of elderly people and covering all the aspects of social protection, including pension coverage, health and medical care, social service, access to cultural events, leisure activities, etc. These kinds of acts are implemented towards other socially vulnerable groups such as children (The Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan “On the Rights of Children in the Republic of Kazakhstan”) [14], people with special needs (The Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan “On Protection of People with Special Needs on the Territory of the Republic of Kazakhstan”) [15]. However, with the age there are special needs that could be satisfied by the government. Instead of that, there are several different unrelated legislative acts, regulating different types of legal relationships with elderly people: for example, The Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan “On Pension Coverage”, The Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan “On Exemptions and Social Care of the Participants and Disabled Veterans of the World War II” and Equated" and others. As a result, not all the needs of elderly people are equally covered by the law.

It is important to notice that according to the international standards on following the rights of elderly people stated in Vienna International Plan of Action on Aging of 1982, clause 68 “The social services should be aimed at maximum performance of their functions done by elderly people; should have an ability to provide a wide range of services to let elderly people be independent, active and profitable members of society” [16]. Despite the significant number of elderly people, there is no special institution providing care of elderly people in Kazakhstan. On contrast, there is a Committee of Protection of Children’s Rights at the Ministry of Education and Science. Even though there are Councils of Veterans in every major city, these institutions do not work with every elderly person. Because of absence of unified legislative act and any institution in charge elderly people do not know their rights and where they can address in case of their rights realization or violation [17, p. 35].

Our society is accustomed to treating elderly with respect and children are obliged to take care of elderly parents due to the eastern culture. However, practically, it appears to be rather a suggestion than reality. We have a lot of lonely elderly people, who even have working adult children. As it has been mentioned before, there are a lot of cases of abuse and social isolation of elderly people. And, finally, elderly people, more often than anybody else, become victims of fraud and other unlawful actions because of their age and physiological conditions. Unfortunately, you cannot just rely on traditions in the aforementioned scenarios. Moreover, our government states itself as a legislative state, not as a traditional one. That is why, the rights and needs of elderly people should be protected by the statute of the law.

Thus, we propose to introduce the following changes in the laws:

1) Accept a unified law “On the Rights of Elderly People in the Republic of Kazakhstan”, which will unite all the main rights, freedoms and guarantees of elderly people as one of the most vulnerable groups of people.

2) On the basis of the law create an authorized body that will protect elderly people and provide them with social service. Elderly people should be able to address the local branches of that body to be assisted with their problems. Also this body should be able to control the actions of other governmental and non-governmental bodies towards elderly people. The international experience is widely approved (Russia, Great Britain, the USA).

3) Following the example of the Committee of Protection of Children’s Rights at the Ministry of Education and Science, this body should have a hot line that could consult elderly people, especially the immobile ones, who could complain about the cases of domestic violence, unlawful actions from state representatives, social workers, etc. The analysis of the inquiries will help to learn a more accurate needs analysis and develop a more effective gerontological strategy of the nation.

All the following changes will help to achieve the very social reforms:

1) Increase of quality of social protection for elderly people, prevention of their social isolation.

2) Increase of the quality of life of elderly people, their lifespan, and the population of the country. It is important to mention because, currently, the average lifespan of people is a little bit more than 70 years old. Kazakhstan takes 150th place among other countries.

3) Increase of legislative culture of elderly people: knowledge of their rights will help elderly people to defend themselves from unlawful acts.

4) Increase of activity of elderly people who are motivated to be active members of society, who participate in upbringing of younger generations, including developing of patriotism.

The issues of provision and protection of rights of elderly people are related to everyone. Once we will grow old, and our living conditions will depend on us. If we do not take actual measures to improve the lawmaking in this sphere today, tomorrow we will be in the same state, being unprotected and dependent on our children and grand children. Like modern elderly people, we would have nothing else but rely on decency and good relationships with our relatives in particular and society in general.


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Table of contents: The Kazakh-American Free University Academic Journal №8 - 2016

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