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Last month, we took a look at how in Japan many children are expected to commute to school without their parents’ help starting in elementary school. That’s not the only amazing display of responsibility that’s part of everyday life for Japanese kids, though.

Not only do Japanese schools not have school busses, they also don’t have food-serving or cleaning staff. That means it’s the students themselves who’re responsible for distributing school lunches and keeping the building clean, and the diligence with which they go about their tasks would put many full-blown adults to shame, as shown in this video of all the things Japanese grade schoolers are expected to do during a typical school day in addition to studying.

To create the video, CafCu Media visited a fifth-grade classroom in Saitama Prefecture. The campus is somewhat unique in that it has its own vegetable patch from which it sources some of the ingredients for its school lunches.

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What’s par for the course in Japan, though, is how much the students themselves pitch in during lunchtime.

Japanese schools don’t have dedicated cafeterias, so the students eat in their classrooms. However, there’s still one central kitchen where everything gets cooked, and there has to be some system of delivering this day’s fried fish with pear sauce, vegetable soup, and mashed potatoes to the hungry student body. So each day students take turns going to the kitchen to pick up the food and serve it to their classmates.

This being Japan, the process is organized and sanitary. The helpers for the day put on smocks, caps, and masks. Before heading off to the kitchen, they double-check that no one has a cough or sniffle (anyone who does is removed from the rotation for the day) and everyone washes their hands and cleanses them with anti-bacterial gel.

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At the kitchen the cooks have loaded up a cart with the food for each class. After formally thanking the cooks for their hard work, the kids retrieve their class’ allotment and transport it back to their room.

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Meanwhile, the rest of the class has laid out their chopsticks and place mat (which each student is expected to bring from home), the latter helping to keep the desks they study on clean.

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Once the food arrives, the day’s servers pass out bread and packs of milk and the remaining kids form up in a chow line to receive the rest of the meal.

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Then, finally, it’s time to eat!

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But that doesn’t mean the day’s work is done. After finishing, the kids on duty for the day cart the dishes back to the kitchen for washing, and also rinse and gather the empty milk cartons for recycling.

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All of this takes about 45 minutes, but even when the meal is over, it’s not time to go outside and play. Instead, it’s time to clean the school.

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And no, it’s not just their classrooms that the kids sweep and scrub, as they also take care of the hallways, gymnasium, entryway, and yes, even the bathrooms.

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▼ At this particular school, it looks like the students even clean the teachers’ room.

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Again, this isn’t a special occasion because there was a film crew coming. The kids follow this routine every day, and it’s all part of the belief in Japanese schools that the students shouldn’t just be learning math, science, and literature, but also how to be self-sufficient, not be a burden to others, and to appreciate the efforts made on their behalf. Some may say that’s a lot for a young mind to digest, but the video shows that by instilling these values at an early age kids learn to take such responsibilities in stride, a lesson that will no doubt serve them well for the rest of their lives.

Source, images: YouTube/CafCu Media
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