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A very busy week with Brigada Eskwela

THIS has been a very busy week for the nation’s schools. Since last Monday, the people of the community have been working in our school classrooms and yards, contributing their time and efforts to preparing everything for the opening of schools on Monday, June 5.

All during this week, volunteers have been repainting the walls of classrooms and corridors, repairing broken desks, preparing blackboards and other classroom facilities, and cleaning up the surroundings, to ensure that when our schoolchildren return to school after the long summer vacation, they will find everything ready for the learning ahead.

This is Brigada Eskwela, a nationwide program that began in 2003 as part of the Balik Eskwela program of the Department of Education (DepEd). More than an internal maintenance program of the school, it is a reaching out to the community so that the local residents, civic and church groups, and the business community feel a bond with the schools that are shaping the future of their children.

Brigada Eskwela was not a mandatory program when it began in 2003 and only about 30 percent of the nation’s schools participated. But by 2007, all the nation’s schools had become part of the nationwide undertaking. Community participation came in all forms – donations of materials with which to repair broken chairs, paint to freshen the walls, free labor by carpenters, masons, gardeners, and anybody who could wield a paintbrush, food for the
volunteers, and funds from business and other organizations. In 2012, according to DepEd, total contributions to Brigada Eskwela were quantified to a total of R1.51 billion nationwide. By 2016, the contributions had grown to P7.26 billion.

This year, under new Secretary of Education Leonor Briones, the nation’s schools, in addition to Brigada Eskwela, will be giving lectures aimed at curbing illegal drugs use. They will be reaching out to those who cannot come regularly to school and get them into the Alternative Learning System, long an advocacy of Secretary Briones.

The nation’s schools are at the center of our national life, educating our children to be good citizens. Among all the institutions of government, the school is the closest to the community. It has today become even closer with the annual program of volunteerism, donations, and community cooperation that is Brigada Eskwela.