ENVIRONMENTAL awareness through continuous education, rather than the fear of law, has resulted in a cleaner and greener Singapore, according to some schoolchildren in the Lion City. They were speaking to a group of young ambassadors of hygiene from Hong Kong who were in the city to study its environmental hygiene situation. Stephen Kow Fang Liang, 16, a Secondary Four student of the Fairfield Methodist Secondary School of Singapore, said law enforcement was only a temporary measure to fight pollution. 'As people are getting economically well-off, they don't care about being fined for littering. But education is a long-term solution, and it makes us aware how significant it is to make our environment clean and it is certainly more effective,' said Stephen. Every year, the school organises a series of programmes and competitions to promote environmental hygiene among students. Classes are allocated a particular area of the school to take care of such things as the car park, canteen and the basketball court. Secondary Two student Ivan Hng Jing Yeong's class is responsible for the basketball court, used occasionally for funfairs. 'Cleaning is normally easy but after parades and funfairs, there is usually a lot of rubbish,' the 14-year-old said. 'Constructive punishment' is imposed on students who violate the rules, according to school vice-principal Victoria Tham. 'For example, there are rules to be followed at the canteen. Students are not supposed to litter the area and must return the bowls after use. 'Those who violate the rules may be asked to clean the canteen for a day. We call this constructive punishment because this promotes good behaviour among students,' said Mrs Tham. As well as that, a 'Model Class of the Year' contest is organised annually to promote environmental consciousness. School prefects will study and mark each class according to its cleanliness daily and teachers-in-charge also conduct similar exercises from time to time during the year. Principal Tang Poh Kim said the programmes and contests had been organised at the initiative of the school authority. The task of promoting the green message is also shared by some student volunteers from the Enviro-care Club, an extra-curricular society of the school, which organised a paper and aluminium can recycling project. While each classroom was given a box for paper collection, three big containers were placed in the campus to collect soft drink cans. Mr Chua Kok Siew, Assistant Commander of Public Health of the Environmental Health Department in the Ministry of the Environment, said education, being the only long-term solution to an environmental-conscious society, was most effective during the formative years of a person. 'This is the reason why the Ministry chose the schools as the major target group,' Mr Chua said. 'Law is just a short-term solution in controlling people's behaviour. We see the results straight away, but they are not long-lasting. 'Education is changing people's behaviour, it is long-lasting and more effective,' he said. One of the Ministry's on-going environmental promotion programmes is the Clean Rivers Education Programme, aimed at educating students on cleaning up the Singapore River and Kallang Basin and the importance of keeping the watercourse clean. Despite the voluntary nature of the programme, Mr Chua, said it received enthusiastic support from school authorities and students. 'We showed students how we cleaned up Singapore. It took 10 years to clean it up and if they wanted to enjoy a cleaner environment they must also play a role,' Mr Chua added. Other programmes included exhibitions, talks and field trips for schools. The group of 20 student ambassadors of hygiene from Hong Kong won a free trip to the Lion City from February 4 to 8 under the 1994-95 Urban Council Ambassador of Hygiene Scheme. The scheme, held for the first time, was organised by the council in association with the Education Department and sponsored by the Singapore Tourist Promotion Board and Singapore Airlines. Apart from sharing their views during discussions with schoolchildren, the group also visited the Ministry of Environment and various tourist spots.