China / Hot Issues

Rising divorce rate prompts call for college courses in marriage

By CANG WEI in Nanjing ( Updated: 2015-02-05 17:25

Universities and colleges in China should provide courses on marriage and family to prepare young people for the complexities of married life, said a member of Jiangsu province's political consultative conference.

"The divorce rate in the province is increasing rapidly, and more Chinese young people choose wealth instead of love in marriage," said Qian Suomei, who is also the chairman of Jiangsu Women's Federation in Nantong.

"According to a survey just released by the federation, 44.7 percent of women under 25 in Jiangsu said they will marry wealthy men they don't love instead of poor ones they love," Qian said. "Such an unhealthy philosophy has no doubt led to the high divorce rate among the young."

According to the federation, more than 70 percent of divorced couples are aged 20 to 40.

Figures from China's Ministry of Civil Affairs show the country's divorce rate has been increasing from around 0.13 percent in 2004 to 0.26 percent in 2013. The number of couples divorcing in 2013 was 3.5 million, up 12.8 percent from the previous year.

"People's happiness is not always connected with the wealth," said Qian. "A happy marriage and a harmonious family are very important for many people's happiness. That's the reason why I suggested college students have courses to understand marriage better."

Qian also suggested that couples should take marriage and family lessons arranged by the Department of Civil Affairs to learn how to maintain a family and should not be allowed to get married before passing related tests.

Sun Xiaomei, a professor specializing in marriage and women's studies at China Women's University in Beijing, said the long absence of family education in China has contributed greatly to the increase in the divorce rate and other family issues.

"Instead of having short-term courses shortly before getting married, people should take family courses that begin in primary school," said Sun. "It will help people understand what marriage is and how to cope with difficulties families face. The systematic education on nutrition, dressing, financing and other factors relating to family life can also help people maintain a healthy marriage."

Sun added that she and 10 colleagues from China Women's University are conducting seminars to compile the country's first family course textbook for senior high school students.

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