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By Maria Gemima C. Valderrama

Education is everybody’s business and so DepEd launched the weeklong Brigada Eskwela (BE) in all schools where the community, parents, government and non-government organizations gathered together to prepare schools in the opening of classes on June 13.

Regional Director Alberto T. Escobarte led the kick-off ceremony of BE at Frederico Yap National High School in Brgy. Astorga, Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur where majority of DepEd personnel volunteered and joined the community in re-painting the walls, fixing damaged chairs, cleaning the surroundings, and doing all necessary repairs to ensure the school is conducive for learning.

“Our participation in the school affairs is not only limited to attendance in school meetings and fund raising activities; it is about our active engagement in children’s learning,” RD Escobarte said.

He also stressed that the productive days of the schoolyear is when we involve in the maintenance and repair of the school.

“Brigada Eskwela is about renewal of our commitment and involvement in the school,” he added.

Outgoing Sta. Cruz Mayor Joel Ray Lopez said DepEd is the most reliable partner of LGU that’s why the municipality of Sta. Cruz always gives importance to Brigada Eskwela.

“Brigada Eskwela is one of the most significant innovations of DepEd – getting and working together as one,” he said.

The partial report that has reached the Regional Office five days after its kick-off ceremony on May 30 is overwhelming.  The number of volunteers reached almost 233,000 while the total donations reached almost 28.5M.  This is a manifestation that education has become the priority of Filipino people.

BE started in 2003 when former Secretary Edilberto C. De Jesus signed DepEd Order No. 70, s. 2003 introducing the National Schools Maintenance Week to encourage local communities and parents to volunteer time to do minor repairs on their children’s school to get ready for the start of the opening of classes.

It is purely voluntary effort.  Since some schools face the reality of aging infrastructure, increasingly dilapidated structures and, in some cases, abandoned facilities that could pose safety hazards to learners, the effort of volunteers to repair and maintain the school can give a big difference.

“When we work together, our learners do better and stay longer in school.  We value the involvement of our parents and stakeholders,” RD Escobarte said as he emphasized that they are considered as integral part of school governance.

He also said BE is a continuing invitation to all partners and stakeholders because the management of the school is not the sole responsibility of teachers and school head.

“It is all our responsibility,” he stressed.

For 13 years now, BE is successfully implemented few weeks before the opening of classes.  All through these years, small and big private companies answered the call of DepEd.  Through the initiative of the school heads and teachers of each public school, they are able to receive donations for the repair and maintenance of school building and facilities.

With the theme “Tayo Para sa Paaralang Ligtas, Maayos, at Handa Mula sa Kindergarten Hanggang Senior High School”,  Education Secretary Br. Armin A. Luistro emphasized that our schools need to be prepared for one of the biggest changes in the education system especially that Grade 11 will be implemented this year.

“We encourage businesses to help us deliver quality education nationwide by helping communities create clean, safe, and disaster-ready schools for our students,” Secretary Luistro said.