Chinese school segregates boys from girls in cafeteria to clamp down on teen romances

Some school administrators in China are using segregation of the sexes outside of class time to enforce discipline.

A high school in central China has segregated boys from girls during cafeteria breaks as part of its efforts to prevent romances.

The school has also banned students from hand-holding and time alone with each other, pupils from Suiping County No 1 High School in Henan province said on the news-clip platform Pear Video this week.

A member of staff from the county's education bureau confirmed that the school put rules in place to prevent romantic relationships. Calls to the school for comment went unanswered.

The school issued two lists - behaviour that is encouraged and behaviour that is banned - to grade pupils with a point system. Those who lost 25 points would be expelled, a girl pupil was quoted as saying.

The negative behaviour list, issued at the start of the semester last month, also forbade pupils from taking a bag on campus as part of a ban on electronic devices and items such as snacks that the school deemed inappropriate.

Segregation of sexes and strict rules governing behaviour have become common in some Chinese schools.Photo: Screengrab/Miaopai

"If students have physical contact, or two students - whether of the same gender or not - walk together, they would be considered as having a romantic relationship," the pupil said.

The news prompted criticism on Chinese social media, as many people doubted such measures were either necessary or effective.

"Is it wrong to have budding romances?" said one user on Weibo, China's Twitter-like platform. "Shouldn't a normal kid have emotions during his growth? You should give advice and communicate with them, not damage human nature by such extreme ways."

"I'd suggest the school simply be divided into two campuses, one for girls and one for boys. This surely would be more effective," another said.

The Suiping school one is one of many that have introduced such measures over the past few years.

In 2016, a high school in Ruyang, also in Henan province, aroused controversy after it segregated boys from girls in its cafeteria. The principal told local media that the rule was made to stop flirtatious students from feeding each other, which often occurred.

This article was first published in South China Morning Post