Thursday, 31 July 2014

Students get involved in keeping estates clean

By Priscilla Goy, The Straits Times, 30 Jul 2014

GET a free canned drink for every 1kg of rubbish collected in a trash bag.

Students at Woodgrove Secondary School plan to implement this idea to curb the littering problem at nearby Housing Board flats. It received the most votes in a poll which was part of the Keep Singapore Clean Movement in Schools, launched yesterday by Education Minister Heng Swee Keat.

"Through the movement, students can learn to take ownership of our community spaces and our Singapore," he said. "(They) can become role models and advocates of a clean Singapore to their classmates, family members and people in the community."

The movement is an updated version of the Use Your Hands campaign started in 1976.

After cleaning a school toilet with a few Woodgrove Secondary students and viewing an exhibition of their cleanliness-related projects, Mr Heng said activities in the latest movement would be mainly "student-initiated". "In that way, the values that underpin these activities can be more deeply internalised... So it's not just a set of activities that they have to do, but because they want to do them."

While some activities may be organised by schools, the movement also encourages students to propose ideas for keeping clean the places they frequent - such as the school campus and local neighbourhoods.

The movement will be part of the character and citizenship education curriculum, and will involve all primary, secondary and pre-tertiary schools.

The Public Hygiene Council, made up of 21 representatives from various sectors, will support schools by providing resources such as litter-picking kits, comprising tongs and gloves, and identifying potential littering hot spots.

Earlier this month, 70 Secondary 3 students from Woodgrove surveyed areas around the school. They found that littering, especially of cigarette butts, in common corridors and gathering areas was a key problem, and brainstormed how to address this yesterday.

Student Cleavon Tei, 15, said: "There is more ownership and pride among students when we contribute our ideas."

Public Hygiene Council chairman Liak Teng Lit said keeping Singapore clean requires a "concerted effort" from everyone. "With the strong support from the students and their parents, I believe we are a step closer to being a truly clean Singapore, not just a cleaned one."

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