Cleaning – The way to ‘cultivating good habits for life”?

The Ministry of Education (MOE) has recently introduced cleaning activities through primary schools all the way to junior college. The aim of such an activity is to mainly encourage the younger generation to “cultivate good habits for life’’, possibly social responsibility, self-reliance and graciousness.

 

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increase in Number of Maids in Singapore from 2011 to 2013

The implementation of compulsory cleaning activities is a wise move made by MOE when faced with rising number of households which employ domestic help. The number of maids in Singapore has increased from by about 4 per cent from 2011 to 2013 and is still increasing now. With this growing figure, more children are getting used to someone cleaning up after them and feel that they are entitled to such a privilege.

 

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Primary schools are institutes which nurtures and shape the fundamental moral values of a child. They are places where children spend most of their time at and thus what they experience and learn there significantly influences and shape their character and morality.

Primary schools are institutes which nurtures and shape the fundamental moral values of a child. They are places where children spend most of their time at and thus what they experience and learn there significantly influences and shape their character and morality. Thus, the introduction of cleaning activities in schools are an effective way of instilling and fostering desirable morals the students, which will eventually lead to the betterment of our society.

Becoming a More Inclusive City

With a generation that has a strong sense of social responsibility, it can create a more caring and inclusive society. More people will be more proactive rather than reactive to a problem.  Singapore currently has an increasing income disparity between the poor and the rich. To help the less fortunate, the rich may go the extra mile and start more campaigns or initiatives to change the lives of others instead of donating to organizations to do so. Corporations may also adopt a much more ethical approach in their production of goods and services. The society will evolve into one that involves themselves directly to make a change happen.

Cultivating Self-Reliance

Cultivating self-reliance is essential for us to be able to withstand the challenges and hardships they face. Self-reliance is one of the fundamental trait for people to become successful and resourceful. Those who possess such a trait enables them to make use of their environment and what they have strategically to achieve their goals. Becoming more self-reliant also enables us to become more reliable for others as well as we are seen to be more sensible. With the growth of the reliability of each member of Singapore’s society, we are stronger and more competitive on the international stage.

Promoting Graciousness

Graciousness is a trait that Singapore was deemed to be lacking. According to the Singapore Kindness Movement, Singapore’s graciousness index hit its lowest in 2013. The compulsory cleaning program helps to teach the younger children to be courteous and propriety in certain situations. For example, helping to clear their trays after eating at hawker centres or fast food chain or even simply helping someone hold the lift door. These gestures may not benefit ourselves directly but it encourages others to reciprocate the same kindness shown. This creates a warmer and happier society. A positive society is healthy and motivating for its people. It inspires people to do things for others and the positivity that radiates throughout the society can increase the productivity and efficiency of the nation.

Concerns over Academic Performance

Despite the obvious benefits from the implementation of cleaning activities, some parents have voiced their concerns on the activity eating into academic hours and “may easily tire the young ones and cause them to lose focus on their studies”, as quoted from a concerned mother.

Most Singaporean parents place strong emphasis on their children’s academic performance. In Singapore, academic achievements largely determine the success of an individual entering university. Without a university degree, it is difficult to secure a career. With the various streams introduced for secondary education, Students in primary schools are fighting for the most advantageous route to their tertiary education. The pursuit for the best route to university starts with PSLE as they are streamed into Integrated Program, Express or Normal streams. The additional chores in schools could be unnecessary as they take up additional curriculum time that could be used for academic purposes such as consultations or supplementary lessons. Although the latter is a valid argument against the introduction of cleaning activities, we must remember that schools are essentially a place to nurture students holistically. In addition, it acts as a good break for students from the long hours of lessons as cleaning is also a form of exercise.

 

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The move by the MOE to introduce these activities serves as a reminder to students of the important values that may have been forgotten in this pursuit towards academic excellence.

The competition amongst students in schools are very intense. Under such pressure and stress, students may come to develop an attitude of “kiasuness”, which is the attitude of fearing to lose out. This attitude motivates the child to be more selfish and less concerned about others, disregarding the consequences of their actions to the society around them. The move by the MOE to introduce these activities serves as a reminder to students of the important values that may have been forgotten in this pursuit towards academic excellence.