The Department of Education (DepEd) on Wednesday expressed gratitude to donors from various sectors that continue to extend help to public schools through its “Brigada Eskwela” program.
DepEd Undersecretary for Legislative Affairs, External Partnerships, and Project Management Service Tonisito M.C. Umali Esq., in an online press conference, explained that this year’s BE has been reconfigured to “focus partnership activity and engagement” in support of the Basic Education -Learning Continuity Plan (BE-LCP) implementation.
Based on the partial report on partnership initiatives from March to June, Umali said that P1,208,631,459.28 worth of equipment and materials of donations have been received by DepEd from its partners. The donated items included tents, thermal scanners, sanitizing materials (e.g. rubbing alcohol, hand sanitizer, and soap), cleaning tools and materials, disinfectants, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), face masks (surgical or disposable), hygiene kits, blood donation, and food packs.
These, Umali said, were distributed to learners, DepEd teaching and non-teaching personnel, frontliners, underprivileged families, local communities, senior citizens, and volunteers.
The “Brigada” or the National Schools Maintenance Week is one the biggest and most-anticipated back-to-school activities of DepEd. In the previous years, volunteers such as parents, members of the community and the private sector came and worked together to clean up, repaint, and do minor repairs to ensure that public schools will be ready in time for the school opening.
The BE started as a week-long event encouraging local communities and parents to volunteer. The target was 4,000 schools to be involved, but 12,553 schools took the challenge of institutionalization of BE. In 2008, the BE was institutionalized through DepEd Order No. 24 wherein “stakeholders may volunteer their time and skills to ensure that public schools are ready for the opening classes.”
From 2016 to 2019, under the leadership of Education Secretary Leonor Briones, the “Brigada” became more than cleaning, painting/repainting and minor repairs because other partnership activities were also integrated.
However, in light of the COVID-19 situation in the country, this year’s “Brigada” has been reconfigured to deviate from the traditional concept of physical cleaning, painting, repainting, and doing minor repairs in schools.
Since its national virtual kick off on June 1, Umali said DepEd regional offices have also conducted local “Brigada” kickoff programs and conducted various activities related to the implementation of the BE-LCP this School Year (SY) 2020-2021.
Umali noted that regional and division virtual BE kick off activities will also include orientation on the COVID-19 situation and scenarios; discussion of the Learning Continuity Plan (LCP); investment in education; giving new direction in engaging partners; one major BE activity to be adopted by RO/SDO; conduct of psychological first aid (PFA) and PFA training; discussion on the basic roles and responsibilities of different sectors, including parents; and debriefing of learners, among others.
Other “Brigada” upcoming activities include partnership webinar for parents and volunteers on the role of parents in distance learning and mental health and psychosocial support program for teachers and learners in partnership with the Disaster Risk Reduction Management Service (DRRMS).