By Michael Evans
Students at one Guangxi university got an unusual and unexpected Christmas present from their teacher last week: condoms.
On Dec 25, a second-year student at a university in Nanning posted a photo of three condoms on his Sina Weibo account, saying that they were handed out in class earlier that day by the student’s English teacher.
Local media interviewed the teacher, identified only by his nickname Zhu Zhu, who confirmed the story. Zhu Zhu said that he has distributed condoms to his students every Christmas starting in 2009, one year after he began teaching. He explained that he obtained the condoms through his volunteer work in AIDS prevention activities.
Asked why he had chosen to give such an unconventional gift, the teacher said that while many students are “quite open-minded,” they often feel too embarrassed to buy birth control in stores. He also defended himself against accusations that his gifts might encourage students to have sex:
Whether a couple has [sexual] relations or not doesn’t depend upon whether or not they’ve got a condom or something, it depends on whether or not they’re relationship has reached that point. When I give out condoms, it’s just to make sure that when they reach that point, they’ll be protected.
One of Zhu Zhu’s colleagues described him as generally very “progressive,” which he attributed to having studied for four years in Shanghai. “In foreign countries, this kind of thing is very common,” the colleague noted. “There’s nothing shocking about it.”
China has begun to pay greater attention in recent months both to the growing number of university students becoming sexually active, as well as students’ lack of knowledge about contraception. Chongqing University recently became the latest institution to install condom dispensing machines on campus.
In a recent survey, 31 percent of sexually active students in Shanghai admitted to not using a condom.