UAE | General

Japanese tradition: A clean sweep

These students mop floors, clean washrooms, and water the plants... and it’s all a part of their learning process

  • By Atia Rabbani, Staff Writer
  • Published: 08:55 May 21, 2009

  • Image Credit: XPRESS/Zaria Fernandes
  • Students at the Japanese School in Dubai busy mopping and cleaning at their school
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To the strains of classical music a student at the Japanese School in Dubai gets down to sweeping the floor. Another begins to mop the floor while a third rushes to water the plants. Enter the washroom and there are others scrubbing the floor and the washbasins.

One might mistakenly think these students are serving out some sort of punishment... but the truth is quite the contrary.

A form of respect

“To clean their school, a place where they build their future, means that they respect and appreciate their circumstances,'' explained Principal Fumiyoshi Suzuki. “In Japan, all schools do this. It is very normal.''

The school has no cleaners and brings in outside staff to clean only three times a year. Every morning, sharp at 8am, a student kicks off the “cleaning time'' on a public announcement system, following which students from Grade I to IX take up their allotted jobs from dusting, sweeping and mopping to watering plants and cleaning the washrooms.

“This is part of the process of educating children,'' Suzuki said, adding that even the faculty, including him, help in cleaning the school.

The 237 students of the school work in groups, with each group comprising seven to 10 members from different classes and a team leader from a higher class. After the session, the groups “evaluate'' each other.

The team leader grades the members' tasks as good or bad with corresponding symbols.

When XPRESS asked a group of students if they carried over their cleaning skills to their homes, more than half of the group eagerly raised their hands.

Mai, a student of Grade IX, however, however said she rarely helped at home. “I sometimes wash plates and clean my room, but my mummy does that mostly,'' she said.

Learning experience

“Maybe at home these students have cleaners, but here it is part of our job to teach them how to do it themselves,'' Suzuki said.

Konomi Veda, a Grade III teacher, said: “We've never had a problem with any of the students when they clean. Learning how to take care of their homes is just as important as science or maths.''

Suzuki said that nearly all students return to Japan to continue with their secondary education after finishing from here.

Takumi Nakanishi, a ninth grade student who is leaving this year, said: “I will go back to Japan and join high school. I will miss it here.''

The Japanese School in Dubai was established as a public school in 1980. It has another branch in Abu Dhabi which also follows the daily cleaning ritual. The school's curriculum covers subjects such as science, arts, music, maths, history and sports, besides Japanese and a foreign language.

For details, visit the school's website: