New initiative can clean up mindsets on blue-collar work

In addition to plans to get students to spend some time each day cleaning areas in school ("A clean way to pick up good habits in schools"; last Friday), it would also be useful to give janitors a break.

Schools such as Serangoon Junior College already give the cleaning crew a one-day break at the start of the year to emphasise to students the importance of ownership and social responsibility.

Such a move could also strengthen appreciation for these individuals in the school and, perhaps, change mindsets that such "menial labour" is beneath Singaporeans.

Teachers will, no doubt, be tasked with coordinating these cleaning endeavours.

However, since action matters more than mere rhetoric, it is crucial that the school leadership, especially principals and heads of department, also become role models and participate actively in these cleaning routines.

Indeed, an enduring memory I have of my primary school days in Pei Chun Public School is that of former principal Chen Keng Juan not only urging pupils to take pride in a clean school environment and to clean classrooms and school areas, but also joining us and picking up litter as he made his daily rounds.

Kwan Jin Yao

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 03, 2016, with the headline 'New initiative can clean up mindsets on blue-collar work'. Print Edition | Subscribe