Acting Education Minister Ng Chee Meng at a cleaning demonstration in Xingnan Primary School.
WHEN WILL THIS START?
By the end of this year, students in all schools – from primary schools to junior colleges – will be involved in the daily cleaning of their school environment. Cleaning can be carried out at various periods of the school day, such as before the first lesson, during recess, in between classes, or just before dismissal.
Many schools, such as Xingnan Primary, Park View Primary and New Town Secondary, have already put in place between five and 10 minutes of cleaning activities within their school hours daily. At Xingnan Primary in Jurong West, for instance, pupils are involved in cleaning after their recess and at the end of the school day. Primary 1 pupils also have an activity to document how they assist their family members with household chores.
At Park View Primary, pupils clean up their classrooms five minutes before the school day ends.
Related story: Teach your kid to do chores
WHY MUST MY KID CLEAN HIS SCHOOL?
The move is introduced to inculcate in students good habits such as a sense of responsibility and care, the Ministry of Education (MOE) said on Feb 25.
Acting Minister for Education (Schools) Ng Chee Meng said during a visit to Xingnan Primary in Jurong West on that day: “Getting the kids involved in such daily activities is really a good way to get them to learn personal responsibility and even social responsibility.” (Watch his visit here.)
Denise Phua, chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Education, hopes students will learn to pick up after themselves instead of expecting others to do so.
“It gives more respect to the school cleaners when cleaning is seen as everyone’s joint responsibility and not only of those who are paid to clean up after us,” she said
WHAT WILL HE BE CLEANING?
Areas that the students will clean include the classrooms and common spaces such as canteens and corridors. MOE says the specific cleaning duties will be left to schools to come up with their own programmes.
Cleaning can take place before the first lesson, or during recess, for instance, and involve the cleaning of classrooms or common areas such as corridors. But toilets will be excluded.
Watch this video to see how Japanese children keep their school clean – they even serve food to fellow classmates and clean up after!
WHAT DO PARENTS THINK?
There were some who wondered if daily cleaning would take up too much of the students’ class time. But many who reacted to the news wrote about their own school memories of tidying up after using a classroom, and lauded the move, saying students will be able to take ownership of their shared spaces.
“We need to teach our children such habits and get them involved in cleaning up after themselves,” says administrative executive Julie Tan, 43, who has a eight-year-old daughter. “It is good to learn these good values from young.”
A version of this article first appeared in The Straits Times.