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'Elegant lady' classes defended after criticism
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Officials at a Hubei Province college have defended running classes to train "elegant ladies" after the scheme attracted criticism.

Some critics said the classes were training for ernai, or mistresses, and others said it revealed China's education system failed to nurture personality and culture.

The criticism came after it was reported that 50 girl students had started studying how to behave like ladies this semester at the High Vocational School of Wuhan University of Science and Technology. They are taking six courses in social etiquette, fashion, flower arranging, driving and traditional skills required for Chinese women.

The class has proved to be popular among students, both female and male, according to school officials.

About 140 female students crowded into the class on the opening day, they said.

"And many male students came to the class, too," said Yuan Weihua, the school's vice Party secretary.

The official said the courses' popularity was because Chinese schools do not teach girls how to behave in a feminine, ladylike way.

The school's Party secretary, Guo Weiqi, said the courses are practical and improve the students' taste in art and music.

"It will help improve the students' personalities and taste in music, art and dancing," Guo said.

Student Ren Wijing said she enjoyed the class. "It's more than dressing-up and make-up as I had thought," Ren said. "It broadens my mind."

Wang Jing, the teacher in charge of the class, said the real aim was to enhance students' self-esteem as many of the girls in the school are from poor areas.

(Shanghai Daily April 10, 2009)

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