Cleanest school to be named in November

National 2 minutes, 59 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

THE Ministry of Education will award winners of the first nationwide school cleanliness competition in November.

Over 115 primary and 37 secondary public schools are competing in the contest.

In a recent interview, Director of Schools Datin Dr Hjh Asmah Hj Morni said the results of the competition would be announced in November to ensure schools are able to sustain their cleanliness until end of the year.

Conducted by the department’s Health Promotion Unit, the competition would be divided into seven categories, including for schools in interior areas.

“Every school differ from one another, you cannot pair an urban school and a remote rural school to compete against each other,” Datin Dr Hjh Asmah said.

Although specific prizes were not confirmed, she said cash money was not likely and cleaning equipment such as water jets may be awarded instead.

She went on to day that the contest was organised as part of the National Schools Cleaning Carnival, and to mark 100 years of formal education in the sultanate.

The director-general said the carnival and competition were hoped to create a conducive environment that stimulates effective teaching and learning.

“Once this environment is established, the teachers can focus on teaching and students on learning, rather than worrying on how unclean the school is,” she said.

However, she acknowledged that cleaning itself requires time.

“I always remind principals to make sure their school is clean but if you don’t enable them the time to clean up – then how can they?” she said.

“Some teachers work so much and by the time they reach their table, finish their marking, they would be too tired at the end of the day,” she added.

Early this June, Datin Dr Hjh Asmah sent a memo for all schools to hold a cleaning carnival before the holidays.

She said the carnival’s reception was promising, as principals from various schools sent photos to her on how much their schools had done.

In some schools, they cleaned prayer hall carpets, used water jets, and cut overgrown tree branches.

Based on what she saw, she said it is possible for schools to clean up provided that time is given.

The director said there lingered a mindset among some parents who do not value cleanliness activities, adding that they send their children to school to study and not clean.

“But to me, cleaning is part of the curriculum and I don’t see it as a waste of time,” she said.

“Education is very dynamic and learning comes in different forms, for example, there’s teamwork, problem-solving and how to clean up and communicate with one another.

“It’s already there, embedded in these activities are all these social development and I know learning takes place because they also learn about a culture of cleanliness,” she added.

Asked whether cleanliness correlates with academic achievement, the director-general said cleanliness was merely one of the factors.

“That’s the beauty of education, it’s dynamic, unpredictable and you cannot improve education by just a linear process – it must be a simultaneous process,” she said.

“You cannot depend on cleanliness itself; parents’ involvement, students’ initiative and how much support teachers are given – all these variables help towards increasing students’ results.”

She further said school clean-ups should not only begin when there’s a visit from His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam or any high-level visit.

“I hope the competition can encourage schools to always be clean – and when you’re already clean then you need not worry about last minute clean-ups,” she said.

The Brunei Times