March 20, 2008 / 8:21 AM / 12 years ago

Singapore students get intimate in lessons of love

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Wanna know what love is? Ask a Singaporean lecturer.

The Singapore skyline in a file photo. Wanna know what love is? Ask a Singaporean lecturer. In an effort to boost the city-state's low birth rate, Singapore's Ngee Ann Polytechnic has launched a government-backed course teaching students about flirting and relationships. Subjects include love song analysis, speed-dating and online chatting. REUTERS/Luis Enrique Ascui

In an effort to boost the city-state’s low birth rate, Singapore’s Ngee Ann Polytechnic has launched a government-backed course teaching students about flirting and relationships. Subjects include love song analysis, speed-dating and online chatting.

“My teacher said if a guy looks into my eyes for more than five seconds, it could mean that he is attracted to me and I stand a chance,” 18-year-old student Isabel Seet was quoted as saying by the local Straits Times newspaper.

The course, “Understanding Relationships: Love and Sexuality”, is taught by an official from the Social Development Unit, the government’s match-making agency.

It has become so popular since its inception in October last year that the school has had to recruit another trainer, the polytechnic’s spokeswoman told Reuters.

The course is intended to provide an “understanding of the fundamentals of human relationships” and is one of two offered by Singapore’s polytechnics to encourage young Singaporeans to get married, the newspaper said.

Fearing that an ageing population will hurt economic growth, Singapore’s government has been trying for years to encourage educated young people in particular to have children, with incentives ranging from tax breaks to “baby bonuses”.

There has also been more hands-on encouragement for university students in the form of parties and trips organized by the Social Development Unit.

“By learning the dynamics and intricacies of diverse relations, they can effectively apply strategies and techniques to cultivate fulfilling lifelong relationships,” the spokeswoman said.

The course is modeled along general elective classes that students from all faculties can take.

Student Kamal Prakash told the Straits Times that while his relationship with his parents has improved since taking the course, he is still single.

“I think most people who take the course would find it easier to get a girlfriend,” Prakash was quoted as saying. “But I’m not really looking for a girlfriend now as I want to concentrate on my studies.”

Reporting by Melanie Lee, editing by Neil Chatterjee and Sophie Hardach

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