By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
While it supports the “Brigada Eskwela” of the Department of Education (DepEd), a group of teachers on Monday reminded that sufficient supply of basic education resources, as well as maintenance work for public schools facilities, are first and foremost “obligation” of the government through the provision of ample budget.
The Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC), in a statement, said that its members support the annual clean-up and school maintenance activities during the weeklong initiative. “Bilang pagsasabuhay sa diwa ng Bayanihan na isang magandang kaugaliang Pilipino, isinasagawa ito ng DepEd sa layuning pakilusin nang sama-sama ang komunidad at mga may taya (stakeholders) sa pampublikong paaralan sa pagsasaayos nito at paghahanda para sa pasukan,” the group said.
Given this, TDC echoed the call of DepEd for the stakeholders to participate and support the initiative. “Malaki ang maaaring maitulong ng komunidad at iba pang stakeholders sa pagpapanatili ng kaayusan ng ating mga paaralan na siyang layunin ng Brigada Eskuwela,” the group said. “Sapagkat hindi lamang mga guro at pamunuan ng paaralan ang tanging may obligasyon sa ating mga pampublikong paaralan [at] kabilang ang lahat sa may pananagutan dito,” it added.
However, the TDC reminded the government to prioritize the needs of the education sector – particularly the public schools. “Naniniwala kami na ang mga pasilidad, supplies, kagamitan at pagkukumpuni ng ating mga paaralan ay pangunahing obligasyon ng pamahalaan at dapat paglaanan ng sapat na badyet,” the group said.
TDC also noted that there are still many public schools that need support. “Marami sa ating mga pampublikong paaralan ay nangangailangan nito lalo na yaong mga nasa kanayunan o mga liblib na pook na kadalasa’y hindi inaabot ng mga donasyon,” the group explained. “Ang boluntaryong pagtulong ng pribadong sektor ay hindi dapat na maging dahilan upang bawasan ang pondo o hindi na maglaan ng budget para sa maintenance at operasyon ng mga paaralan,” it added.
Despite repeated reminders from DepEd that the participation in the “Brigada” should be voluntary, TDC said it has received reports involving incidents were joining the activity becomes mandatory. “May mga ilang kaso na rin na naiulat sa amin na ginagawang rekisito sa enrolment o nagiging sapilitan ang partispasyon ng mga magulang sa Brigada Eskwela,” the group said.
TDC said that while it recognizes the intention and spirit behind the Brigada implementation, the government must ensure that enough funds are provided for the needs of the public schools. “Kinikilala namin ang Brigada Eskwela sapagkat ito ay nagpapatunay na buhay pa ang diwa ng Bayanihan kasabay na aming pinapaalala na ang pambili ng mga pintura, pako, yero, bintana, floor wax, walis, bumbilya, lamesa at upuan sa mga paaralan at ang gastusin para sa pagkumpini dito ay obligasyon ng pamahalaan,” it added.
All public schools are urged by DepEd to simultaneously implement the Brigada Eskwela 2019 starting today, May 20 until May 25, Saturday.
DepEd local officials were directed to mobilize their partnerships with school-based focal persons to ensure the “effective implementation” of the program in all public elementary and secondary schools and the involvement of their communities.
The DepEd-National Capital Region (NCR) kicked off the program and caravan in Las Pinas Elementary School Central. The Batasan Hills National High School (BHNHS) also held activities related to the Brigada for the preparation of school opening for SY 2019-2020.
The “Brigada Eskwela” is also known as the “National Schools Maintenance Week.” It 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. Aside from the usual clean-up and repair activities, the DepEd has started incorporating school safety and disaster readiness in the weeklong activity.