Chinese students to learn how to cook, clean and raise pets to combat stereotype

South China Morning Post

Posted at May 07 2022 12:38 PM

Primary and secondary school students in China will be expected to cook simple dishes like scrambled eggs and learn how to clean under a shake-up of the country's education system from September.

The new curriculum for domestic labour was released by the Chinese Ministry of Education late last month and is already an online sensation among students, who are often stereotyped as only focused on academic studies.

Chinese students have long had a reputation for lacking independence and the ability to cope with life, even after they have reached adulthood.

Xiong Bingqi, director of the 21st Century Education Research Institute, said it's a common phenomenon that Chinese parents value knowledge-focused education while overlooking basic life and living skills.

"Many parents help their kids do all the non-study stuff. They don't allow their children to do any household chores or any manual labour," Xiong told the South China Morning Post.

"Cooking is a basic skill that students should learn while growing up. Highlighting the learning of cooking in the curriculum corrects this weakness in family education."

From this autumn, students in primary and the younger years of secondary schools across the country will attend at least one domestic labour class every week, according to the ministry's proposal.

They will learn a range of domestic skills from cooking, cleaning, organising, repairing appliances, growing vegetables and raising small animals such as goldfish, silkworms, chickens and ducks.

The authority said the course is aimed at letting students do more physical labour-based activities, hone their coping skills and resilience and nurture their labour skills.

Among parents, the most popular element of the new curriculum is that their children would be taught to cook for them.

Students from grades one to two will learn how to trim and wash vegetables for cooking and how to peel fruit. Grades three to four will be taught to make cold vegetable dishes using sauce and how to boil food.

Grade five to six students will be able to make two to three common dishes, such as scrambled egg with tomatoes, fried eggs, and bone soups. They are expected to complete the whole food preparation process by themselves from prepping vegetables to cooking and serving the food.

Students in grades seven to nine will be taught to design daily meal plans of three recipes a day for their families. They should be able to make three to four dishes independently, said the document.

Mainland students currently attend domestic labour classes, but the contents are not as comprehensive as those in the new syllabus. The current classes tend to be taken by other teachers to push academic subjects like Chinese, mathematics and English.

"The domestic labour classes can teach students many basic skills for living," the China News Service said in an editorial on Thursday.

"But it's essential to implement it well. The labour class can not only exist on school timetables, while actually being taken over by mainstream subjects like Chinese, mathematics and English," the news agency continued.

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