SIAU MING EN Today Online 26 Feb 16;
SINGAPORE — Before Xingnan Primary School encouraged nine-year-old Annissa Ong and her schoolmates to develop good cleaning habits by helping to tidy their classrooms and the canteen every day, she would simply leave her plate and utensils at the dining table after her meals at home.
Now, the Primary Four student would not only help her mother with washing dishes, but also clean up after her six-year-old brother after meal times, said her father Ong Boon Leong, 40.
Such good life-habits are what the Ministry of Education (MOE) hopes to cultivate among the young with its move to have all schools involve their students in the daily cleaning of the school environment by the end of this year.
All primary and secondary schools, junior colleges and the centralised institute will have to set aside at least five to 10 minutes of their students’ school hours each day for cleaning activities, said the MOE, which had looked at similar cleaning practices from the education systems in Japan and Taiwan. Schools here will have the flexibility to decide the type of cleaning activities — such as sweeping the floors and dusting classroom tables — and when the cleaning can be carried out, such as before the first lesson or during recess.
Areas to be cleaned include classrooms and common areas, such as canteens and corridors.
Students will not be expected to clean toilets, which are handled by the school cleaners. In Xingnan, for example, every class is rostered daily to do toilet checks, and provide feedback to the school’s operations manager.
Speaking to the media on the sidelines of a visit to Xingnan Primary School, Acting Minister for Education (Schools) Ng Chee Meng said getting students involved in daily cleaning is a good way to get them to learn about personal and social responsibility.
They can have fun while cleaning, but in the process also pick up some good habits, he said.
“Over some period of time, I’m sure our kids will learn to take care of themselves, learn self-reliance and be able to not just do these good things in school, but be able to go out in society (and show) some graciousness,” he added.
Before this, some schools already have their own cleaning activities and programmes, although these may not always involve daily cleaning or the participation of all students.
Those that have already incorporated some cleaning time within their school hours include Xingnan, where students have been asked since 2013 to clean up after themselves before the end of recess and the school day.
At Park View Primary School, music will also be played five minutes before the end of each school day to signal the start of the classroom cleaning routine for all students.
Xingnan student Nadya Adriana, 11, said even though the daily activities will help to make her school environment cleaner, “irresponsible” students must also play their part by not leaving their rubbish lying around.
Annissa felt that more brooms might be needed in every classroom now that everyone will be involved with the cleaning.
Her father, Mr Ong, said he noticed how his daughter was slowly starting to realise the importance of cleanliness. “She started to ask her mum how to wash spoons, forks and plates after dinner … I realised the school did a good job (in teaching) the students,” he added.
Daily cleaning 'cultivates good habits for life'
Calvin Yang, The Straits Times, AsiaOne 26 Feb 16;
Taking a cue from Japan and Taiwan, students in primary and secondary schools here, as well as those in junior colleges, will have to spend at least a few minutes each day cleaning classrooms, canteens and corridors by the year end.
The aim, said the Ministry of Education (MOE) yesterday, is to help them cultivate good habits for life.
Highlighting how many schools already include five to 10 minutes of cleaning by students, MOE said this will be made compulsory across all schools by the year end. Schools are free to decide on what these daily activities should be, and when they take place.
Acting Minister for Education (Schools) Ng Chee Meng, who yesterday visited Xingnan Primary School, where pupils clean up after recess and at the end of the school day, said getting students involved in daily cleaning is a good way to get them to learn personal and social responsibility.
Mr Ng, who joined the pupils in tidying up the classroom, explained that when children follow a routine, they can "cultivate good habits and make them a part of their lives".
The Public Hygiene Council (PHC) and Singapore Kindness Movement will also help in outreach efforts.
PHC chairman Edward D'Silva said the move was not a response to anything in particular. "During my time, all schools had area cleaning. We cleaned classrooms, toilets and corridors," he added. "We hope to promote the good values that we used to have before."
The ministry had looked at similar practices from education systems in Japan and Taiwan. In these places, cleaning the school compound is a daily routine for students. Many schools do not employ cleaners or janitors.
Ms Lee Bee Wah, chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for the Environment and Water Resources, also told The Straits Times that schools in Taiwan even find ways to motivate students to clean up, including letting them decorate their classrooms and toilets. Students also sometimes compete to see who can sort the trash faster.
"In Singapore, many people, especially younger people, are used to maids or cleaners cleaning up after them," she said. "If we don't arrest this trend now, our littering problem will only get worse."
Serangoon Junior College principal Manogaran Suppiah said getting students involved with the cleaning would give them a sense of ownership of their school space.
Second-year Meridian Junior College student Goh Shu Yi, 17, said that even without such organised cleaning activities, she and her schoolmates already pick up after themselves. "It is something we do because it is a good habit," she said.
Primary 5 pupil Nadya Adriana, who studies at Xingnan, said she usually helps by sweeping the floor or wiping the whiteboards during recess or before dismissal.
"If we don't keep the classroom clean, we might not be able to concentrate during lessons," said the 11-year-old.
Experts laud move to have students clean schools
Calvin Yang, Alexis Ong, Straits Times AsiaOne 29 Feb 16;
(From left) Primary 1 pupils Lim Jun Xi, Goh Zi Shan and Aliyah Dinie of Xingnan Primary School cleaning their classroom on 25 February 2016.
A move to make all schools include cleaning activities by the end of the year could bring long-term benefits to both students and the community, according to education experts and sociologists.
The scheme will help build character, cultivate a sense of ownership and spill over to the home environment.
Last Thursday, the Ministry of Education (MOE) announced that students in primary and secondary schools here, as well as those in junior colleges, will have to spend at least a few minutes each day cleaning classrooms, canteens and corridors.
The aim, according to the ministry, is to help them cultivate good habits for life. Schools are given the flexibility to decide on what these daily activities should be and when they take place.
Dr Kang Soon Hock, who heads the social science core at SIM University, said that when students actively participate in the daily clean-up activities, they will learn to take responsibility. The cleaning activities also give them opportunities to work with their classmates.
Dr Timothy Chan, director of SIM Global Education's academic division, believes such cleaning duties help students to learn to live in communities. "Participating in cleaning the school environment is one effective way to learn how to live together," he said. "Through such activities, students will look at cleanliness not just as a condition, but also as an attitude."
However, Dr Chan added that the activities have to be planned carefully by the schools.
"In order to alleviate parents' concerns, schools may consider excluding certain areas from being cleaned by students, such as unsheltered areas," he said.
Prior to Thursday's announcement, many schools had already included five to 10 minutes of cleaning work by students.
At St Joseph's Institution, students follow a roster of classroom cleaning duties. Tasks include cleaning the whiteboards, sweeping the floor and taking out the trash.
At Haig Girls' School, pupils will, among other tasks, clean the canteen after recess and pick up litter in the classroom between lessons.
In the past, there would be tissue paper and food packets on the floor in common spaces like the canteen, said principal Constance Loke.
She added: "Pupils are now more conscious about picking up litter and the common spaces in the school are much cleaner."
Some schools have implemented more cleaning initiatives this year.
At Meridian Junior College, students have to ensure a classroom is ready for use before every tutorial. This includes cleaning the whiteboards and arranging the classroom furniture neatly at the start and end of every lesson.
Principal Lim Yan Hock said: "It ensures that each student starts the lesson not only with a clean working environment, but also one that is clutter-free."
Dr Intan Azura Mokhtar, deputy chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Education, said the cleaning tasks will allow students to appreciate their school and estate cleaners and, for some, their domestic helpers.
"For too long, we've been expecting a clean environment to exist by other people's effort and toil," she added.
"There's no better way to impart values and build character than by rolling up your sleeves, getting your hands dirty and doing the work together."
SIAU MING EN Today Online 26 Feb 16;