By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
ALFONSO, Cavite – The Department of Education (DepEd) on Thursday led the national kick off program and caravan of the 2019 “Brigada Eskwela,” a program to help ensure that the schools are ecologically conscious, resilient, clean, safe and conducive to learning.
The national kick-off and caravan started at 6:30 a.m. at the Alfonso Cavite Public Plaza to the Alfonso Central School.
DepEd Undersecretaries Annalyn Sevilla and Tonisito Umali, Assistant Secretary G.H. Ambat and Region IV-A OIC Regional Director Carlito Rocafort spearheaded the national kick off along with other DepEd regional and division officials as well as representatives from the local government unit.
In a press conference, Sevilla underscored the importance of the activity in ensuring that the schools would be able to accommodate learners, noting that “schools are a very big part of every student’s life.”
Umali, who is also Undersecretary for Legislative Affairs, External Partnerships, and Project Management Service, that the “Brigada Eskwela” is a permanent part of the DepEd school calendar which mandates public schools to implement the program every second week of May.
Now on its 16th year, the “Brigada Eskwela” – also known as the National Schools Maintenance Week – aims to “bring together all education stakeholders to participate and contribute their time, effort, and resources to prepare public school facilities for the opening of the school year in June.”
Rocafort explained that since Brigada has been institutionalized, there were “new innovations and new activities” and it has also become a “yearlong activity” in schools in the region.
Earlier, DepEd announced that school opening in all elementary and secondary schools nationwide is scheduled on June 3, Monday.
As part of the 2019 Brigada, school officials along with partners conducted activities advocacy campaigns and orientation against illegal drugs, health and sanitation, and disaster resiliency. There was also a series of skills trainings offered.
Among the highlights of this year’s Brigada Eskwela is to ensure that schools are safe and prepared in times of emergencies.
Umali explained that DepEd has also issued the School Safety and Preparedness Guide to provide “guidance to schools and education partners in ensuring safety and preparedness” of learners as well as personnel “before, during and after emergencies.”
Brigada Eskwela Plus
In phases, Umali said that DepEd is also conducting “Brigada Eskwela Plus Program” in public schools nationwide – consistent with the regular “Brigada Eskwela” Program.
“Brigada Eskwela Plus Program” aims to “achieve higher and significant goals geared towards increasing learners’ participation rate, reducing dropouts and helping improve learning for both learners and community.”
DepEd said that the program shall focus on the school maintenance activities throughout the year, school and community effort to improve participation and reduce dropout rate.
Umali noted that in 2018 alone, a total of P4.66 billion worth of resources was generated. The number of nationwide volunteers doubled from 11 million in 2017 to 22 million in 2018.