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Learning to be a perfect lady proves fruitful (3)

(China Daily)

09:51, May 31, 2013

How to set a table correctly is one of the skills women learn at the Institute Sarita finishing school in Beijing. Photo by Wu Hailang for China Daily

Xiong Bingqi, deputy director of the 21st Century Education Research Institute in Beijing, said: "It's up to individuals to choose their own education. Some women may choose to be taught so-called feminine virtues, but others may despise that choice. The important thing is that education should be diversified and meet different people's requirements."

Xiong mentioned that, like finishing schools, many universities and high schools are now offering courses specially designed for female students. Some even plan to become single-sex institutions, a common practice in a number of countries for many years, but still unusual on the Chinese mainland.

Nanjing Renmin Middle School has run two pilot classes for female students since 2012. The 51 students can choose from dozens of courses, including female psychology, flower arranging, bodybuilding and self-defense martial arts.

Principle Chen Zhongxiang said that from 2015 the school will only accept female students. In preparation, a new campus is under construction and the buildings will cater to female tastes. The teachers are also being trained to better serve the girls.

According to a survey launched by the school, which polled thousands of parents who hold a bachelor's degree and higher, 64.5 percent were willing to send their daughters to girls-only schools, while 13.1 percent were against the idea.

Even top educational establishments, such as Tsinghua University and Peking University in Beijing and Fudan University in Shanghai, offer etiquette courses.

Meanwhile, the government of Shanghai has announced that an education base, consisting of several high schools and universities, will be established to reinforce etiquette, hostessing skills and self-improvement.

"It is clear that this is what students want to learn," said Ho, who added that she has been invited to deliver one-off guest lectures at both Tsinghua and Peking universities. She has also been asked to provide an etiquette class as part of an executive MBA course on a long-term basis. "It should allow you to be a better version of yourself," she said of the class.

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