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Brigada Eskwela: Bayanihan at work

THE nation’s millions of students and pupils troop back to the public schools on Monday, June 13, but two weeks before that, the Department of Education (DepEd) will lead what has become a yearly tradition in getting the community and various government agencies to join in preparing the schools for the year – Brigada Eskwela.

Since it began in 2003, Brigada Eskwela has served the nation well in preparing schools for the millions of students and pupils after the long summer vacation. Repairs are done, walls and roofs are repainted, leaking pipes are repaired, toilets are cleaned, and school grounds are cleared of all possible breeding grounds for mosquitoes and other disease-bearing insects. School heads start recruiting volunteers as early as February, approach local businesses for donations around March, and are ready with organized work groups by April.

Thus when Brigada Eskwela begins in May, a veritable army of volunteers – parents and teachers, students and alumni, members of civic groups and others in the community – descends on the schools to ensure that everything is ready and safe and clean for the community’s children.

This year, Brigada Eskwela will hold formal launching ceremonies at the Sta. Cruz Pingkian High School in Kayapa, Nueva Vizcaya. The program will also mark the nationwide implementation of the Senior High School program, which adds two years to basic education in the country, to make it K to 12. DepEd Secretary Armin Luistro said this year’s Brigada Eskwela will also integrate disaster preparedness in the activities to prepare the schools for the expected typhoons, floods, and possibly earthquakes.

Various other departments of the government are involved in the opening of schools through an Inter-Agency Taskforce of Oplan Balik Eskwela led by the Department of Education, along with police, traffic, power, water, weather, and other services. But it is the community participation that is at the center of Balik Eskwela.

Thus starting May 28 until June 18, the entire communities will converge on the nation’s schools, freely contributing their time, effort, money, and other resources, so that when their children come on June 13, the rooms will have no broken windows, the seats and desks and blackboards will be in place, and the grounds will be clean.

It will be a great display of the bayanihan spirit of Filipinos.