April 4, 2023
SINGAPORE – Nine vocational colleges in China are giving their students a week-long spring break for them to “enjoy love” amid the country’s declining birth rate.
Fan Mei Education Group, which runs the colleges, announced on March 23 that the spring break will take place from April 1 to 7, and asked students “to love nature, love life, and enjoy love”.
The break is an expansion of China’s one-day public holiday for Qing Ming Festival, when families head to cemeteries to clean tombs and pay respects to their ancestors.
“Walk out of campus, get in touch with nature and with your heart feel the beauty of spring,” said Mianyang Flying Vocational College, which is one of the colleges under Fan Mei.
Mr Liang Guohui, deputy dean of Mianyang, said: “I hope students can go to see the green water and green mountains and feel the breath of spring. This will not only broaden students’ horizons and cultivate their sentiments, but also enrich and deepen the teaching content in the classroom.”
The colleges – which are schools for students in the aviation industry – have been getting a week off in spring since 2019.
However, this year’s theme of “enjoy the blossoms, go fall in love” placed a special emphasis on romance.
Ms Liu Ping, deputy dean of Sichuan South-west Aviation Vocational College, said her school implemented the programme as students have been asking for time to make new friends and “experience the beauty of love”.
It will not be all love and romance for the students, however.
They are still assigned homework, albeit unconventional assignments such as writing travel diaries, making handicrafts, filming travel videos and writing up reports of their personal growth.
This comes as China’s birth rate in 2022 hit an all-time low of 6.77 births for every 1,000 people, down from 7.52 in 2021, despite a landmark decision to allow couples to have up to three children and a slew of measures to help with raising them.
China has been trying to raise its flagging fertility rate to stave off a growing reliance on the government to support its elderly population, but it has achieved little success so far.
Changing attitudes towards raising children, a fall in the number of women at optimal child-bearing age and the Covid-19 pandemic have contributed to China’s dwindling birth rate.