A NEW anti-littering campaign targeted at schoolchildren aims to make them take greater responsibility for their surroundings.

The Students Embrace Litter- Free (Self) programme, launched on Wednesday by Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources Amy Khor, will also encourage primary schools to adopt public spaces like parks, stadiums and beaches, where pupils will conduct clean-up activities at least twice a year.

Previously, such initiatives were confined to school compounds or done elsewhere on an ad hoc basis, said a National Environment Agency (NEA) spokesman.

For a start, 26 primary schools have indicated an interest in the Self programme, which is not compulsory for now. Earlier this year, a pilot programme involving nine primary schools had pupils cleaning up parks and bus stops around their respective schools.

NEA data shows an increase in the number of young litterbugs caught. Last year, 4,278 people under the age of 21 were caught, up from 1,835 in 2006.

An NEA survey of 1,800 schoolchildren from Primary 4 to junior college two years ago showed more than 40 per cent saying they would leave rubbish behind in cinemas, parks and beaches.

Speaking at the launch, Dr Khor said environmental ownership has to go beyond 'checking our homes for mosquito breeding, or recycling our own waste'.

Kids to clean up after litter bugs