The Ministry of Education in Singapore says it wants to foster a sense of responsibility in young people by getting them involved in looking after their own schools. Pupils will be required to clean up spaces including classrooms, corridors and canteens, but the toilets will still be left to professional cleaners, reports BBC. Schools will be allowed to decide for themselves exactly when the duties can be slotted into the school day, either before or after lessons, or during break times. The new policy will apply to students from primary age, and will be implemented across the country by the end of 2016. One mother stated that she supports the move because it encourages children to get into good habits from a young age.
Singapore is following the lead of Japan, where students have long been tasked with sweeping, mopping and dusting duties around their school buildings, and often serve lunches to their classmates in the canteen. In Japan, every class is responsible for cleaning its own classroom and two other places in the school. The class is divided into han (small groups), each of which is responsible for one of the areas to be cleaned. Three times a year, students in third grade and above do chiiki seiso (neighborhood cleanup). School have an arsenal of kid-size brooms and dustpans that are brought out for the event. The kids put on cotton-knit gloves called gunte and head out to pick up trash in the neighborhood around the school.
According to The Japan Times, it’s a little hard for non-Japanese to grasp why kids should be cleaning at school. With all the concern about falling academic achievement, shouldn’t they be using that time for learning? But students are learning during o-soji (cleaning), Japanese parents and educators will tell you. They are learning to respect their surroundings. They are learning that it’s better not to make a mess if you are the one who has to clean it up.