SINGAPORE - On a school trip to Osaka last year, 16-year-old Soh Jing Zhi was struck by what he observed.
The first was that there were hardly any rubbish bins on the streets other than recycling bins. Most Japanese took their trash home for disposal.
The second was that students at a school he visited would clean the classrooms and toilets - not as punishment but because they saw it as their duty to keep their environment clean.
Inspired by this spirit of social responsibility, the Chong Boon Secondary student decided to "import" the idea to his own school.
Last year, Jing Zhi and a group of friends started an initiative for students to clean their own classrooms.
They initially met some resistance. "Some students said, 'Why should we clean the classroom when we have cleaners?'" said Jing Zhi.
But he and his friends persuaded them to join the initiative. The Sec 1 to Sec 3 students now hold a cleaning exercise - mopping floors and wiping tables - twice a year.
Jing Zhi, who was awarded an Edusave Scholarship yesterday, was cited by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong as an example of how education is not just about learning what is in the textbooks, but also learning to be a good citizen.
Other award winners highlighted were Nuur Muhammad Nuh Rusydy'fauzi, 15, who organised a mass dance for new Chong Boon students, and Dinesh Ganesan, 13, a former senior prefect at Teck Ghee Primary School who volunteered to look after kindergarten children.
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