Lessons in seduction for SingaporeansSeriously. How socially retarded does this make us seem? I sent this to my colleagues for some light-hearted entertainment after the long Easter break, and, man, did they find this amusing. And of course, they had to ask me how difficult it was to put "Singapore youth in the mood for love." Probably incredibly difficult now that scores of young teenage girls will start counting in their heads whenever a guy looks at them.
By Thomas Bell, South East Asia Correspondent
Last Updated: 1:29am GMT 24/03/2008
The Singapore government is offering students lessons in seduction in an attempt to boost the city state's flagging birth rates.
Students at two polytechnics can earn two credits towards their final degree by choosing the love elective. Activities include watching slushy films, holding hands and "love song analysis".
An 18-year-old mechanical engineering student, Isabel Seet, told the local Straits Times newspaper: "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.
"It's very interesting, and if I have a boyfriend in future, I'll know how to cope with any problems we may have."
Besides "love and sexuality", the curriculum also deals with the importance of family life.
The "trainers" are provided by the Social Development Unit, a government match-making agency that has married off 33,000 people since it was established in 1984.
Last week government minister Yu-Foo Yee Shoon warned young people not to put their career before establishing a family "because if you wait until then, sometimes it'll be a little too late".
But it is not so easy to put Singaporean youth in the mood for love. Another student, Kamal Prakash, said that the course has improved his relationship with his parents but he is still single.
"I think most people who take the course would find it easier to get a girlfriend," he said. "But I'm not really looking for a girlfriend now as I want to concentrate on my studies."
I also like how Ms. Seet says "if I have a boyfriend in the future," the course will, apparently, have equipped her with the skills necessary to "cope with any problems [they] may have," thereby illustrating perfectly the problem facing so many Singaporeans; they feel that in order to get through life, all that is needed is book smarts, and not street smarts, a point reflected in the closing paragraph.