As what the Ministry of Education (MOE) had announced earlier this year, students in all schools will be involved in and help each other in the daily cleaning of their school environment starting from the end of the year in hope that the students would have a sense of responsibility and care for their own space and for shared spaces.
MOE said that cleaning can be carried out at different periods, such as before the first lesson, during recess, in between lessons, or just before dismissal. Areas include the classrooms and common areas, such as canteens and corridors.
The learning from schools can be transferred to the home environment. Students have everyday responsibilities both in school and at home to do these chores. With this constant practice both in school and at home, students learn pro-social behaviours and cultivate good life habits. Currently, there are 365 schools in the country.
The systems have been implemented in Japan and Taiwan where almost all schools do not have cleaners since the students are obliged to keep the spaces clean.
MOE also said that there are many schools have already incorporated five to ten minutes of cleaning activities within their school hours each day.
In Xingnan Primary School, students are involved in cleaning at the end of recess and at the end of the day. To cultivate the habit from young, Primary 1 students also have an activity to document how they help their family members with household chores.
While Park View Primary School – Music is played five minutes before the end of each school day, signaling the start of the classroom cleaning routine for all students.
At New Town Secondary School, all students follow the C.L.E.A.N acronym to guide their routine at the start of the day by cleaning the whiteboard, making the classroom litter-free, ensuring windows and doors are opened, arranging tables and chairs, and placing the bags on the floor neatly.
Students of Coral Secondary School in Pasir Ris are armed with rags, tongs and disposable gloves. They have responsibility to empty the dustbins and arrange the classroom furniture, as well as sweep the floor, for five minutes at the start of the school day.
The school introduced cleanliness checks, to motivate them, which is done at least twice a term. Then classes are informed of their scores in four respective areas – floor, rubbish bin, classroom furniture, white board and notice board. As an appreciation, classes that have done well are lauded during morning assemblies at the end of each term.
While students of Teck Ghee Primary School in Ang Mo Kio are demanded pupils to clean classrooms and corridors alongside their teachers for five minutes at the end of the school day. Songs, which are adapted to suit the cleaning theme and sung by the teachers, are played over the public address system to encourage the students to clean up.
MOE said that character development is most effective when there is partnership between home, school and the community.
Jalan Besar GRC MP Denise Phua, who heads the Government Parliamentary Committee for Education, said such activities keep students grounded, and cultivate the habit of picking up after oneself, saying, “It is important to ensure that this cleaning activity is not the latest flavour of the month and will remain a habit for life.”
The Character and Citizenship Education (CCE) curriculum provides opportunities for parents to reinforce their children’s learning and values nurtured in schools. Through CCE Family Time activities, parents and children can decide, plan and carry out children’s contributions to the home. This includes cleaning tasks like making their beds, washing dishes or helping to clean the house.
MOE also noted that the Public Hygiene Council (PHC) and the Singapore Kindness Movement (SKM) will also support schools and parents in their outreach efforts. Litter-picking toolkits have been made available to all schools, and educational materials and videos are also available on PHC’s website.
Some said agree with the new implementation, while, some said that this is something that should not be rewarded as this should be a habit in the first place.
A netizen, Aan Al-Shariff wrote in response to the story, “Last time during 80s and 90s all of us already do.. Don’t know which parents complaint requested schools should not allow their kids to do cleaning duty. It is good to do cleaning job because it teach us to be more mature and understand about cleanliness. We should not depend on cleaner to clear our rubbish. Good move to implemented this education.”
Another netizen, Dave Wu wrote, “Good decision MOE ! Please don’t waiver if some parents start to complain. It is not good that our children grow up to be softies, brought up by maids. If they don’t grow up helping in house work, they are destined for marital problems when both don’t want to lift a finger. Cleaning up makes one appreciate why we need to keep the place clean.
While Raju Sharma wrote, “Great to know this is implementing! Hope my little one learn to educate herself the value of self discipline with her fellow classmates, which I believe build her true self!”
A few other netizens such as, Jojo Chin wrote, “Very, very good discipline for the students. Lots of students from privileged families do not even know what a broom is for! Discipline is part of the educational process for all students. Working together as part of a team is another skill, and responsibility and development process for them as they grow and mature.”
And Harry Chia wrote, “Finally MOE has the courage to implement this like the Japanese schools. This will only do good for the students and be an astounding success if parents butt out and let the educators do their job.”
But along with those who agree with the new policy, there were those who disagreed with the rating system that came with it.
Lyn Tan wrote in response to the newly introduced policy, “Why are some schools monitoring and rating everything? Is that single score a good measure for one’s responsibility? The rating should not be the goal or motivation. Instead the message for the children should be a clean classroom= pride and self respect.”
Cinthia Lim wrote in agreement with Lyn’s comment, “Agree with the above comment, why must rate? It should be a value and culture to inculcate. Giving grades for it has lost its meaning. We don’t grade our kids when they r at home what. So they won’t do it at home.”
Thay Chin Peng wrote, “Wait… Wait… did you say they “rate” the students. (face palm) The point is to teach the students how to keep their environment clean, etc. Don’t make it into another grade system thingy. Kiasu parents will start asking stupid questions and stress their child for no reasons again. Children will compete against themselves over this. OMG please, stop grading the kids! It’s not a competition! You never learn!!!
How to you feel if you are “rated” for being a parent and how well you do the house work.”
Aloysius Toh wrote, “How amazing is our policy head to be so oblivious and that the so called cleaning programme has always been there since the 90s but to implement it with student being rated? I see the right values.. Changing something and make it look like your own on your tour”
Catherine Or wrote, “Its good to advocate n implement cleaning as part of learning. But take away the rating. It will devalue and undermine an otherwise good move instead. Not everything needs to be rated. I understand that rating is to reward a clean classroom but a clean environment is a reward in itself already. Do not implement the rating system.”