A clean way to pick up good habits in schools

Acting Minister for Education (Schools) Ng Chee Meng (far right) lending a hand to pupils in Xingnan Primary School as they cleaned their classroom yesterday, with Public Hygiene Council chairman Edward D'Silva (in pink shirt) and school principal Ch
Acting Minister for Education (Schools) Ng Chee Meng (far right) lending a hand to pupils in Xingnan Primary School as they cleaned their classroom yesterday, with Public Hygiene Council chairman Edward D'Silva (in pink shirt) and school principal Charles Chan looking on.ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

To instill a sense of responsibility for shared spaces, and hopefully impart good habits for life, all schools will involve their students in daily cleaning activities by the end of the year.

This was announced yesterday by the Ministry of Education (MOE), which explained that it will be left to schools - some of which already include five to 10 minutes of cleaning activities - 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.

Acting Minister for Education (Schools) Ng Chee Meng said during a visit to Xingnan Primary in Jurong West yesterday: "Getting the kids involved in such daily activities is really a good way to get them to learn personal responsibility and even social responsibility."

Ms 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.


Primary 1 pupils (from left) Lim Jun Xi, Goh Zi Shan and Aliyah Dinie sweeping their classroom at Xingnan Primary, where all pupils have to clean up after recess and at the end of school. ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

"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.

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.

Dr William Wan, general secretary of the Singapore Kindness Movement, which will support schools in outreach efforts, said: "I have friends... ranting about children who think that their chores are to be done by hired help.

"It is good to re-emphasise such lessons and activities in our schools, and it will actually be interesting if the young take these lessons back home and practise them there too."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 26, 2016, with the headline 'A clean way to pick up good habits in schools'. Print Edition | Subscribe