Whenever one speaks of Character and Citizenship Education (CCE), the pedagogies are often perceived to be limited to the classroom, where teachers seek to inculcate certain “values”, “attitudes”, and “character lessons” to the students. At Marsiling Primary School, however, pupils are “responsible for cleaning the school”. ST’s Han Fook Kwang explains that lessons have been drawn from school cleaning programmes in Japan – where anecdotally, “[c]leaning together was enjoyable and a good bonding experience” – and Marsiling Primary School is now working with the National Environment Agency in Singapore.
And if this is done right, when the system is self-sustaining, educators wouldn’t have to shoulder more CCE lessons purposelessly.
Some might decry the initiative as being militaristic, over-protective parents might denounce these “menial tasks” (“why are you making my kid do the job of cleaners?”, “my child is too precious to get his or her hands dirty!”), and at the higher-level bureaucrats might be thinking about recognising and certifying their contributions (“maybe we could give them hours, as part of the community involvement programme!”. But these out-of-classroom endeavours provide tremendous learning opportunities. Besides appreciating the responsibilities of cleaners and workers, they also take ownership of their own surroundings, and work together to maintain them.
Mr. Han is right. It is the simple things that can make the biggest difference.