"My mom told me I was picked up on the street," an 11-year-old boy said loudly, triggering a burst of laugh in the class. "Is it true, kids? " asked the elderly man standing in front of the class. Another tall girl replied at once, "No. We were born from mom's womb."
The man with a pair of glasses and patted her shoulder, nodding. He is Min Lefu, deputy director of Beijing Sex Health Education Research Center, who has been promoting sex education in primary and middle schools in Beijing for more than two decades.
His remarks concerning the beginning of life aroused pupils' interests, ranging from puberty changes, feelings and relationships. Kids listened, laughed and sometimes blushed to things they'd never heard before.
It is the first time for this primary school to introduce sex education. In China, sex education commonly starts in junior middle school and is taught in biology class.
"Healthy students should know what's going on with them mentally and physically in adolescence," said Qi Zhenjun, principal of Beijing-based Chaoyang Elementary School Attached to Chaoyang Normal Institute, who arranged for his staff to attend the class so that they could learn from experienced teachers. "Experts help us talk about adolescent changes to children."
The increase in the number of open-minded parents also lessens the teachers' concern. "Parents often turn to us for help, asking us to explain it to the children," Qi said. Qi's school of 500 pupils in Chaoyang District is one of many trailblazers in the country in introducing education on sex and relationships to pupils.