Since 1985, military training has formed a part of most universities' curricula, for both boys and girls, and things are not likely to change for a long time yet.
According to a recent survey by China Youth Daily and www.sina.com that polled 1,510 people, 97 percent said that they had undergone military training at university, and 69 percent think "it is a worthy and unforgettable experience".
Key survey results
Here are what those surveyed thought about military training at university:
Refines the will and spirit 51.1%
An interesting and amazing experience 49.8%
Instills and enhances a sense of discipline 42.2%
A form of defense education 29.9%
A meaningless and useless thing 21.5%
A painful or boring torture 15.6%
Military training at university, not to be confused with compulsory military service, usually lasts two to three weeks. The Defense Law of China clearly points out that military training is a way to promote defense education.
However, survey results show that only 30 percent felt they gained some knowledge of defense. About 51.5 percent felt they improved themselves through the training and about 20 percent feel that military training is useless, boring and meaningless.
Zhang, a student in the English Department at Changchun University of Science and Technology, spoke candidly about what he thought of military training: “Standing, marching and running…it’s hard and boring. You have to repeat very simple movements a thousand times. I want to experience real military life. I want to shoot a gun…”
Many of Zhang’s schoolmates feel the same way. “Hard and boring” seems to be the phrase most often heard about military training.
According to the Outline of Military Courses of Universities and Colleges issued by the Ministry of Education and Headquarters of the General Staff of the People’s Liberation Army, there are many courses available during military training, such as small arms shooting and topography. However, not every student cadet is accepted into a course of his or her choice.
In order to memorize the 20-year anniversary of implementation of the military training, shooting, marching and emergency medical aids have become the key performances of celebration in many places. “We really like the marching, shooting and emergency medical aid courses,” Xiao Zhao, student of Xidian University in Shaanxi Province, said. “But we don't always get accepted to do them."
“We know that some of the courses can be a little boring. But there are too many students and too little time, so we cannot teach highly technical courses, such as shooting” a college teacher said.
“Military training is necessary for college students. Students should know the deeper meaning of this training and be strict with themselves,” opined one of teachers who participated in the survey. “I want to collect some material and report them to the related authorities. I think this will promote the development of students’ military training.”
And to boost morale and to stir up enthusiasm, a certain university will be awarding outstanding cadets with medals.
(China.org.cn by Wang Ke, October 3, 2005)