Parents give thumbs up, but some have doubts

Primary 3 pupils of Beacon Primary School having a lesson.
Primary 3 pupils of Beacon Primary School having a lesson. ST PHOTO: RAJ NADARAJAN

While most parents said the move to get students to help clean their schools is a good one, a few wondered if it may eat into class time.

Madam Lee May Cheng, 38, who has a seven-year-old son, added that such activities may not be suitable for younger children. "They may get too tired after the cleaning, especially if the activities are repeated through the day," the housewife said. "And they may not be able to concentrate during the lessons afterwards."

Added a 40-year-old sales executive, who declined to be named: "The schools already have janitors. Students should be allowed to focus on their studies."

But many parents hope the cleaning activities will teach children responsibility, especially to those who have maids at home.

"Rather than raising children who assume that everything is done for them, we need our young to get involved in cleaning up and making it a habit," said administrative executive Julie Tan, 43, who has an eight-year-old daughter.

"I am sure there are many children, maybe some older ones too, who have not even held a broom or mopped the floor."

Ms Patricia Peh, 40, whose 11-year-old daughter is studying at Paya Lebar Methodist Girls' Primary School, said there is a need for children to be more involved in such chores, so they do not take cleanliness for granted.

"Households these days have maids, and some parents treat their children like princes and princesses, so it is difficult to enforce cleaning at home," she said.

A few parents, such as part-time tutor Nur Azreen Jerma'ain, 36, said that habits cultivated in classrooms often spill over into homes.

Madam Azreen, who has two children aged seven and nine studying at Xingnan Primary, said her children are more responsible now. The primary school in Jurong West has implemented a number of initiatives, including having pupils clean their respective classrooms 10 minutes before school dismissal.

"After meals, my children will help to clear the table without being asked to do so," she said.

Information technology manager Abdul Rahim, 52, who has two sons aged 16 and 18, believes good habits should take root at home.

If children do not pick up after themselves, then "it is the home environment that is at fault", he said.

"During my time, we would clean a classroom if we have used it. We don't need to set aside time for it."

After the announcement, many showed support online for the introduction of daily cleaning in schools.

One Facebook user wrote: "It brings back the good old days of cleaning the classroom at the end of the day. We should not deprive the kids of the fun."

Calvin Yang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 26, 2016, with the headline 'Parents give thumbs up, but some have doubts'. Print Edition | Subscribe