The course, which is in its second year at two polytechnic institutes, is the latest of many, mostly futile, campaigns by the government to get its citizens to mate and multiply. Its popularity last year has led to talk of expansion through the higher education system.
"We want to tell students: Don't wait until you have built up your career, SOMETIMES IT'S TOO LATE, ESPECIALLY FOR THE GIRLS"
Yu-Foo Yee Shoon, minister of state for community development, youth and sports, said at a news conference last month.
The courses are an extension of government matchmaking programs that try to address the twin challenges embodied in a falling birthrate: Too few people are having babies and too few of those who are belong to what Singapore considers the genetically desirable educated elite.
For 25 years, the mating rituals organized by the government - tea dances, wine tasting, cooking classes, cruises, screenings of romantic movies - have been among the country's least-successful social engineering programs.
Last year Singapore's fertility rate fell to a record
low of 1.24 children per woman!
"Some people say if you're a smart guy you should marry a smart woman who can help you with your finances and career," said Chan, whose agency is called Club2040 and who has worked under contract for the Social Development Unit.
eStee Thinks: Definitely, couples should complement each other, but having similar interests may not be the be all and end all of a successful relationship. It takes more work than that. I've seen people who complement each other break up down the road and also have seen couples who seem as different as 2 end of the spectrum last a long time as well. It's not cookie cutter!
Three 20-year-old graduates from last year's inaugural course at Singapore Polytechnic still seemed imbued more with "kiasu" than romance.
Despite everything their teachers had told them about multitasking work and love, none was in a relationship. And nothing they had heard in class seemed to have dented their stereotypes about the opposite sex.
"I'm not open to relationships in school. Boys in school are not my cup of tea. They are male chauvinist pigs. They're annoying and childish. And they won't give in to you. They're just not mature." said Wei Shan Koh, a former student who works as a teacher's aide.
eStee Thinks: Well Weishan, I honestly think you're childish too. I know we all talk about equality and all that but if you aren't able to respect a man or give a man the respect he deserves, then you won't go anywhere. As much as women claim to be equals, we have to accept that men can be better than us in certain areas and likewise. If you want to talk so much about chauvinism, then why don't you go enlist yourself into 2 years into the army then come back and act macho...
"I think girls' ideas are a bit childish, or you might say girlie. It's a matter of pride. Guys are more outspoken. We don't like a girl to be more outspoken." said Tian, who hopes to become an engineer.
eStee Thinks: Darling Tian, if you want a girl who talks less than u, then go marry a Barbie Doll k?
Kamal Prakash, who hopes to be a lecturer in mathematics, gave voice to what appears to be the common theme here, both among young people and their elders.
"I am not interested now in love relations because I want to continue my studies. If I concentrate on love relations, I won't be able to concentrate on my studies."
eStee thinks: Every stage of your life, you'll be busy with something. After this, it'll be work. Are you going to say then that you'll wait until you retire before you start scouting? Hun, multi tasking is good practice now for the future...
Singapore's childbearing age, is one of the lowest in the world and the 28th year in a row it has stayed below the rate of 2.5 children needed to maintain the population. But even a replacement-level rate would not be enough for today's planners. The government recently announced that it was aiming to increase the population by 40 percent over the next half century, to 6.5 million from the current 4.5 million.
"Teaching our youth in school how to fall in love" is a good solution, wrote Andy Ho, a senior writer at The Straits Times, a government-friendly newspaper that does its best to help out in Singapore's many campaigns.
In 1991, for example, when the government began
1) offering cash bonuses to couples with more than two children
2) Newspaper printed tips for having sex in the back seat of a car
3) Directions to some of the "darkest, most secluded and most romantic spots" for parking. It suggested covering the windows with newspapers for privacy.
Singapore is known for its campaigns to get residents to be polite, to smile, to be tidy, to speak proper English and not to chew gum. In 1984, the country's master planner, then-Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, declared that too few of the country's most eligible women - the ones with college degrees - were marrying and having children.
But in Singapore it is impossible to get very far from thoughts of money and the workplace. These guys may have other things on their minds besides romance and babies. :( Thanks to International Tribune for article..
Any bright ideas to help Singaporeans MATE?