Teach kids to be responsible by giving them chores at home
I was on holiday with my grandchild in Japan and, after drinking her canned corn soup, she asked me where she could throw away the empty can. To my surprise, we could not find a dustbin.
To my even greater astonishment, I realised there was no rubbish in sight. There was no litter near the dispensing machine, and the place was spic and span. I was very impressed with the cleanliness of the streets, and I marvelled at the inhabitants’ civic-mindedness.
One of the traditions of Japanese education is that students do soji (cleaning). Soji starts after lunch and lasts for about 20 minutes. This happens four times a week and, on the last day of each semester, there is a longer sprucing-up session called o-soji (big cleaning).
Throughout cleaning time, the public announcement system blasts cheerful marching music. Every class is responsible for cleaning its own classroom and two other places in the school.
Through cleaning, values such as responsibility, cooperation and discipline are inculcated.
Although students need to take care of only the areas they are accountable for, they are more considerate of cleaning staff and less likely to litter or mess up public areas.
These days, many Singapore students attend after-school activities such as enrichment programmes, tuition or sports classes — activities that parents hope will help with academic achievements or furnish their child’s portfolio.
Few are expected to help out with everyday responsibilities. Some parents even react adversely when children are asked to help out with such responsibilities at school.