Can love be taught in the classroom? Some students think so.
According to a China Youth Daily survey published Monday, 90% of 1,028 respondents from several universities across the country were in favor of courses on romance and relationships. Many students said they were interested in learning about relationships and breakups, as well as protecting themselves while dating.
The new survey comes months after a national study shed light on the private lives of Chinese students, underscoring a growing need for sex education — but not classes on romance — at domestic universities. According to the May survey, 15% of female students reported having their private parts touched without consent, while 4% said they were harassed or assaulted by their teachers.
Though sex education is uncommon at Chinese schools, some have introduced “relationship education.” For example, East China Normal University in Shanghai started its “marriage and love” class in 2013, while China University of Mining and Technology in the eastern Jiangsu province followed suit with its “psychology of love” course, and Southwest University of Political Science & Law in Chongqing teaches students to write love letters and pick up dates.
Chen Yiyun, a researcher on adolescent health and affection at the Chinese Academy of Social Science, told Sixth Tone that universities should train teachers to give specialized classes before rolling out “relationship education” nationwide.
“After all, we’re not just teaching students how to get dates,” she said. “Secondary school is usually when students start to develop romantic feelings. That’s when relationship education should begin.”
Online, many have questioned whether romance is teachable within the formal setting of a classroom, as well as whether the topic should be the main subject of a university course. By Monday evening, a related hashtag on microblogging platform Weibo had been viewed over 280 million times.
“Forget about ‘relationship education.’ What students could use is professional gender education,” one user commented. “I’d support a curriculum on human sexuality or the psychology of love.”
Editor: Bibek Bhandari.
(Header image: A woman rides on the back of a man’s bicycle at a college in Chengdu, Sichuan province, March 28, 2018. People Visual)