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Young girls get their own textbook

China Daily | Updated: 2017-09-29 08:34

Young girls get their own textbook

Pretty Girls is designed for girls attending primary schools in Shanghai. [Photo/China Daily]

Following the publication of a gender-based textbook for primary school boys last year, Shanghai has introduced an version for girls.

Like its predecessor, Little Boys, the new book, Pretty Girls, was published by Shanghai Educational Publishing House.

As the first textbook designed for primary school girls in grades 4 and 5 in China, it aims to inform children about gender identity and self-protection, according to Zhang Zhijun, the editor at the publishing house who has seen the two books through to completion.

The book, which combines photos and colorful illustrations, includes six chapters on gender awareness, true beauty, self-protection, interpersonal skills, personality cultivation and future development.

Zhang said the book's contents take into account various practices and experiences of numerous teachers who specialize in primary school education and psychology.

"Compared with previous books focusing only on mental health, the new one is more comprehensive and gives suggestions from the perspective of girls," Zhang said.

In the first section, for instance, the book embraces information on what is true beauty.

"Girls are informed to wash their faces carefully and to dress themselves appropriately, which could show respect to others," she said. "Also, and more important, the book tells them to do more exercises to keep a healthy body and read books to improve their minds."

The book allows teachers to arrange gender-specific lectures more effectively, according to Xu Jing, headmaster of Zhabei No 1 Central Primary School in Jing'an district, one of the country's model schools for sex education.

One of the book's main editors, Xu told that while male and female students can attend classes together on topics such as social manners, it would be more convenient to offer lectures for girls only on gender-specific topics such as physical hygiene and girl-girl friendships.

Shanghai has been committed to sex education for nearly seven years, and is now playing a leading role nationally in providing distinctive materials for students of different sexes.

At the end of last year, Little Boys, the first textbook focusing on the mental health of primary-school-age boys, was published.

While it has received positive feedbacks from parents, students and education professionals, it sparked debate as critics argued that certain qualities, such as perseverance and independence, should not be regarded as solely male attributes.

As the gender gap gradually narrows, women in China are more highly educated and influential than ever, though they continue to face challenges in the job market and at home.

"We hope to teach girls to live with dignity, confidence, self-respect and power," Zhang said, adding that the book is available in bookstores now.

"We also welcome schools, parents and children in other cities to use it," Zhang said.

Cao Chen in Shanghai contributed to this story.

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