By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
On its 16th year, the Department of Education (DepEd) will lead the national kick off program and caravan of the 2019 “Brigada Eskwela” in Alfonso, Cavite on Thursday, May 16.
In a media advisory sent by DepEd, it was announced that the Brigada Eskwela national kick-off and caravan will start at 6: 30 am at the Alfonso Cavite Public Plaza to the Alfonso Central School. Education Secretary Leonor Briones is expected to lead the national kick off along with Undersecretaries Tonisito Umali, Jesus Mateo, Diosdado San Antonio and Assistant Secretary G.H. Ambat and other DepEd officials.
Other parts of the activity will also include advocacy campaigns and orientation against illegal drugs, health and sanitation, and disaster resiliency as well a series of skills trainings.
Epitome of ‘Bayanihan’
DepEd, through its External Partnerships Service (EPS), is set to implement Brigada Eskwela in all public schools from May 20 to 25. It is conducted to ensure that public elementary and secondary schools are ready in time for the opening of classes for School Year (SY) 2019-2020 on June 3.
With theme, “Matatag na Bayan para sa Maunlad na Paaralan,” DepEd recognizes the “importance of the community in making schools the best place for learners to acquire the values and competencies they need to contribute to nation-building.”
Also known as the National Schools Maintenance Week, the “Brigada Eskwela” is one of the biggest activities of DepEd prior to the school opening. In an earlier statement, Education Secretary Leonor Briones emphasized that initiative “is escalating its implementation to maintain its success and go beyond the expected outcomes with the help of its partners.”
Briones emphasized that the conduct of the “Brigada Eskwela” is “more than just about painting or cleaning schools in preparation for the return of the children” but it also “a matter of seeing to it that we provide them the requisites of learners and the requisites of a good learning environment namely, safe schools, supplies, furniture, equipment, and good teachers.”
Meanwhile, Umali said “Brigada Eskwela” continues to flourish 15 years after the program was conceptualized.
Umali noted that in 2018 alone, a total of P4.66 billion worth of resources was generated. The number of nationwide volunteers doubled from 11 million in 2017 to 22 million in 2018. The yearly success of the program, he explained, may be attributed to the growing number of volunteers as well partners who provide support to the initiative.
“Patunay lamang po ito na patuloy pang lumawig ang kaalaman ng ating mamamayan upang dumami ang nakikipagkaisa at lalong mapaunlad ang ating bayan, mapatatag ang ating mga paaralan, at lubusang mapakinabangan ng ating mga mag-aaral,” Umali said.
“Brigada Eskwela” is a voluntary effort which aims to address resource gaps faced by the DepEd through strengthening partnerships with the local communities. Through the years, the efforts of various stakeholders have continued to bring about innovations and creative ways to improve the schools’ facilities in preparation.
As a permanent part of the DepEd school calendar, public schools nationwide are mandated to implement the program every second week of May to ensure that learners will have a better learning environment when classes start.
“Brigada Eskwela is the epitome of what education partnerships truly are,” Umali said. However, he noted that one week of partnering with community, parents, and all of our stakeholders to ensure quality basic education for all learners may not be enough. “Ito po ay dapat na ipagpatuloy, palaguin, palakasin, at paigtingin sa buong taon,” he ended.