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Volunteers from DepEd, NGOs and the private sector display the “bayanihan” spirit during the annual Brigada Eskwela activities.

The Laudable Power of Brigada Eskwela

Brigada Eskwela is once again a byword while the culmination of the school year 2017- 2018 is about to come. But what is Brigada Eskwela?

Victor Hugo once said that “There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come.”

Brigada Eskwela was just an idea in 2003 when Dr. Edilberto De Jesus, the Ateneo de Manila and Yale University graduate was at the helm of the biggest bureaucracy in the nation, the Department of Education.

In 2003, half month before the opening of classes, the call for bayanihan or working together to prepare the school campuses as well as the rooms for learning started.

All DepEd employees specially the teachers, students, parents, LGUs, were all at the forefront of works to give students a prepared and well-groomed learning atmosphere.

“Together, everything will be done perfectly, simple and easy,” said Dr. De Jesus in 2013 as he lead in ushering the nation for the first ever Brigada Eskwela.

From then on, Brigada Eskwela became a by-word and an invitation to all Filipinos to participate. And definitely, it became a perpetual show of force before the annual opening of classes in all levels in basic education.

Brigada Eskwela is now the biggest people power ever happened in the landscape of Philippine education. The idea is no longer just a simple idea but became an essential gargantuan people power hand-in-hand task in our time.

It is a simple bayanihan. Now a monumental program of the Department of Education. All Brigada eskwela since 2013 were successful and productive.

Last year was considered as the most successful one under the leadership of Dr. Leonor Magtolis Briones. It gears to the most orderly and safe opening of classes.

This year’s theme is “Pagkakaisa Para sa Handa, Ligtas at Matatag na Paaralan Tungo sa Magandang Kinakukasan.”

DepEd Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones.

In Brigada Eskwela, all education stakeholders must participate and contribute their time, effort, and resources during the National Schools Maintenance Week to make public school facilities ready for learners’ use in June. Dr. Briones and other DepEd officials lead the Brigada Eskwela National Kick-off Programs and Caravans nationwide.

Last year’s theme became a powerful unifying slogan “Isang DepEd, Isang Pamayanan, Isang Bayanihan para sa Handa at Ligtas na Paaralan.” Brigada Eskwela consists of activities that exhibit the spirit of shared community responsibility in providing quality basic education for all Filipino learners.

“Nakakatuwa ang pinakamahabang pakikiisa ng mamamayan para sa kapakanan ng mga mag-aaral,” said in Tagalog by the delighted Secretary Briones.

“This inspiring gestures shows the responsible parenthood about the education of their children in preparing for their good future. Almost all, including the ordinary citizens, were there helping DepEd in the weeklong preparation for the opening of classes.”

“Volunteers paint classrooms, sweeps the floor, cut long grasses, repair furniture, clean up the school grounds, plant ornamentals and trees. Materials and supplies are usually donated by the parents or by private businesses and foundations. Brigada Eskwela encourages the public to share their time, strength and resources in kind. So amazing actually,” Dr. Briones added.

The Brigada Eskwela is proof that an effective partnership between the government and citizens is very much possible.

Brigada Eskwela has simple guidelines. The activity will start mid-May yearly. Regional offices (ROs) and schools division offices (SDOs) shall hold a caravan to launch the first day of Brigada Eskwela. A kick-off ceremony will be held in a public school offering Senior High School Program, which will also be the final stop of the caravan.

All regional directors and schools division superintendents shall mobilize their Adopt-a-School Program/Brigada Eskwela coordinators to ensure the six-day implementation of Brigada Eskwela in all public elementary and secondary schools and to ensure involvement of the community and local stakeholders.

School Heads (SHs) shall take the lead role in planning the activities geared on making schools ecologically conscious, resilient, clean and conducive to learning.

Individuals or groups from the national government agencies, local government units, private sector, international organizations and other parties, who are interested to help the schools and to volunteer may coordinate with the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Partnership and External Linkages, External Partnerships Service in the Central Office (CO), Education Support Services Division in the regional offices, Social Mobilization and Networking Section under the Schools Governance and Operations Division in the SDOs and /or the beneficiary school itself, for guidance.

All DepEd employees are required to join the Brigada Eskwela activities by offering their skills and by sharing their time or providing their assistance in-kind, and by supporting public schools near their respective residences. They are given two days to do volunteer work on official time, provided that such work is approved by their heads of offices.

The state must provide every Filipino good education. But all forms of education must be a partnership between the government and the private sectors. Our country’s constitutionalists in 1987 strongly inked this fundamental need that they wrote Article II Section 17 on the pages of the highest law of the land – the gift of education.

“The State shall give priority to education, science and technology, arts, culture, and sports to foster patriotism and nationalism, accelerate social progress, and promote total human liberation and development.”

In this gift of education, though not elaborated, it is clearly stated that everybody have responsibility in shaping the future of our children. The children who are the future of the nation. The children who are our future.

Gladly, to be part of Brigada Eskwela is not just a responsibility. It is a great honor to be counted.

Brigada Eskwela is a power of participation. A bayanihan for this future.

Mary Michelle Bonifacio, teacher III, writer-researcher, with M. A. Degree in teaching, is the coordinator of the award-winning Malinta Elementary School Brigada Eskwela in Valenzuela City. She is a recipient of various plaque and certificate of recognition including the Natatanging Guro award from the Rotary Club International Dist. 3810.

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