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“Cleanliness promotes better health. You have a responsibility to keep your homes, surroundings and city clean.” These words often ring in our ears, and left uncared and unnoticed later. They often end up as futile words. For instance, If this question is posed “What is the sanitation standard like in India right now?” The answers of Indian citizens are sort of complaining, saddened, discontented and such like. But to an utter dismay, we forget that we, the public are responsible for unclean and littered surrounding.

 As we move on, we witness each city has become more deformed with refuse, human waste is in the streets along with the animal waste. Open sewers flow along the buildings foundations of old cities and it is impossible to walk anywhere. The filth was becoming more apparent with each day. So who and what can stop this? At this point, I remember the beautiful words of Mahatma Gandhi “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” Here Gandhi’s words tweak us much and say “this is a good way to start off”.

A great platform is needed to instill and sow these words. Undoubtedly education has such great social importance to make better society. We have a duty to benefit and serve our society as best we can, and that includes how we prepare the next generation.

CATCH THEM YOUNG — In large part, our children will be our legacy and imparting the importance of cleanliness to them is the best way Making a Point to change our society. The next cloudiness is what form should the education be? This question pops up in minds of students every time they are sitting in a lecture or striving to complete a project or an assignment. I wonder it too. Practical education certainly has a deeper impact on students. It is not good to always say “You have a responsibility to keep your homes, surroundings and city clean.” What is good in it? If is not practiced in the classroom or school premises.

Schools can show the different ways to keep their environment clean, green and healthy. These few steps will make a great change. Firstly, To develop a cleaning schedule is to get into the habit of picking up paper each day, dusting weekly and replacing classroom decorations monthly. Sort through your bins at the end of the school year, and purge broken or unwanted items. Students can be put in groups and engaged in waste management. They can be guided to make handicrafts from used newspapers, bottles, CDs and so on. Working on school projects can be fun or a painful, tortuous process, depending upon how creative and brilliant they are at executing your ideas. They can be provided with lot of ideas and once in a week, this can be implemented. For school dances or other events, decorations and other supplies can be borrowed or rented. If you buy these supplies, try adopting a theme that can be used from year-to-year, so that you can reuse them. Many schools reuse text books to save money and reduce waste. Covering your textbooks with cut-up grocery or shopping bags helps reduce waste and keeps your books in good condition. If you buy lunch, take and use only what you need: one napkin, one ketchup packet, one salt packet, etc. Remember to recycle your cans and bottles, and separate your waste, you can request your school to keep separate bins. To reduce packaging waste, use school supplies wrapped with minimal packaging, use compact or concentrated products, or buy products in bulk. Especially, using paper bag and avoid using plastic bags. Above all, students should be taught not to break the school properties and not to write on the walls of the schools. As, these sorts of offensive activities are more prevailing among our people. The cleaning tasks can be done in four groups so that they feel like competing with each other in keeping the environment clean. Schools can also set up some kind of a service award program that gives points to children who participate in cleanup activities or are winners of weekly clean ups. On their birthday, Students can be inspired to give a sapling to their schools which will cultivate a civic sense of growing more trees. Science Expo and Environment club can be also introduced in schools to promote environmental awareness.

As a next step, we should also ensure cleanliness in streets, parks and on the roads. Students need to contribute meaningfully to the community by engaging in socially relevant issues. The best example is ‘clean India’ campaign, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has launched this massive nationwide cleanliness drive to spruce up the country and provide toilets to all households by 2019. The challenge is daunting in a country whose sprawling cities often overflow with garbage due to poor waste disposal systems. As a great contribution, many schools took a great effort to carry out this campaign in their school premises.

In line with the Centre’s Swachh Bharat campaign, the Human Resources Development (HRD) ministry launched an initiative on 25th Sept, 2014 for clean schools. Being called the ‘Swachh Bharat Swachh Vidyalaya’ (SBSV) campaign, it was continued till October 31, 2014.

Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) wrote to all affiliated schools that they must try and take part in this campaign to pay homage to Mahatma Gandhi. Students, teachers, parents, along Making a Point with school management committees were encouraged to participate in this programme. According to CBSE, some initiatives that can be taken up by schools include cleaning of classrooms, laboratories, libraries, any statue installed on campus, cleaning of toilets and drinking water areas. Cleaning activities may also extend to kitchen sheds, stores, playgrounds and maintenance of school gardens. The thought of cleaning mission is imparted in the curriculum, taught through value education classes and other classes.

Schools can also organize competitions of essay, painting, debates, songs, skits, street play etc. on cleanliness and hygiene. The central board has suggested the entire campaign be supervised by constituting a children’s cabinet which will help monitor the drive. It was indeed a great initiative by CBSE.

Consequently, many schools and colleges took to the streets with brooms and other cleaning equipment on a public holiday. Few promised that they would do every week adding up to the effort, they initiated to plant trees around their campus.

The same effort can be done every year in all the schools and colleges. They can be motivated to take part in this campaign as it promotes a better environment and lay a great future ahead. Every great success has a start of small idea; similarly every child can be created a responsible citizen through such small tasks. ‘Swachh Bharat’ may be the first step to clean India, and people are expected to make many steps to create an ultimate clean India.

The initiative has to start from schools no doubt as the children can be seasoned from a young age. But, that alone will not make the initiatives complete. I would like to make a mention that when the small school children can make out things, there are the others who has to constantly take charge of it.

They are the Corporate Sectors, NGOs, Entrepreneurs, Banking Sectors, the Celebrities from all walks of life, and the others unmentioned also should take it up as serious issues. They are the people who as adults, can shoulder more responsibilities, stretch out times even after working hours as the mission isn’t a small task. It has to be chalked out and worked out consistently. It wouldn’t be enough for anybody to have to give a grand inauguration, with photos clicking that the drive is on. After some days it comes to a lull. That can’t be the situation. Any issue when addressed constantly, and monitored with a focus, can attain success. The schools should be supported by these organizations, both through moral and monetary support.

I recall Mahatma Gandhi’s words again “Be the change that you wish to see in the world”. That precisely reveals a great thought “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him? We need not wait to see what others do.

The public should stop blaming the Government for everything and put in some efforts from their side too. Why not put in some garbage cans? That would be a great start.


Shanthi Vijayabhaskar
Sree Narayana Mission Sr. Sec. School, Chennai

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