By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
So as not to defeat the spirit of volunteerism espoused in the “Brigada Eskwela,” a group of teachers appealed to the Department of Education (DepEd) not to make it a “contest” among schools.
The Teachers’ Dignity Coalition (TDC) said that while it supports the implementation of the annual school maintenance activity, the DepEd should reconsider making it a competition among the schools on various levels.
“Kung tunay na bolunterismo, hindi na kailangang gawing paligsahan ang Brigada Eskwela,” said TDC in a statement. The group cited earlier reports coming from the field alleging that some public schools are making the participation of learners and their parents to the “Brigada Eskwela” a “requirement” for enrollment.
“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,” TDC said. “Marahil, isa sa mga dahilan nito ay sapagkat ginagawang paligsahan ang implemenstasyon ng Brigada Eskwela sa mga paaralan at binibigyan pa ito ng parangal mula sa antas dibisyon hanggang pampamsang antas,” it added.
Best implementing schools
To give “due recognition” to the schools whose efforts in the implementation of the “Brigada Eskwela” program are “exemplary,” the DepEd awards the “Brigada Eskwela Best Implementing Schools” award in various categories in the elementary and secondary levels.
For 2019, the “Brigada Eskwela” national kick-off program and caravan was held at the Alfonso Central School in Cavite. DepEd officials said that the primary reason why the school was chosen as the venue of this year’s national kick off is that the school is among the awardees of the 2018 “Brigada Eskwela” Best Implementing Schools in Region IV-A, Large School Category.
Based on the 2019 Brigada Eskwela Implementing Guidelines contained in DepEd Memo No. 36 s. of 2019, “Brigada Eskwela Best Implementing Schools” are categorized in Small; Medium; Large and Mega for both elementary and secondary levels. They are selected based on the scope of work; diverse volunteer participation; generated resources; alignment to the year’s Brigada Eskwela theme; creativity and innovation; and increment of resources and volunteers.
In 2018, DepEd recognized a total of 131 “Brigada Eskwela” Best Implementing Schools nationwide. These school-awardees are recognized for showcasing their preparedness, ecological consciousness, cleanliness, resiliency, and conduciveness to learning.
The “Brigada Eskwela” Hall of Fame awardees are those that implement “innovative and community-led efforts to improve student participation and performance.” In 2018, there were 17 Hall of Fame Awardees recognized by DepEd.
Aside from best implementing schools, DepEd also recognizes the “Brigada Eskwela Plus” Most Sustained Schools. DepEd is conducting “Brigada Eskwela Plus” Program –in phases – 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” and to “create a network of community-based organizations to get a total community commitment to attain a higher learning through collaborative programs and projects.”
DepEd said that the focus of the “Brigada Eskwela Plus Program” is on the school maintenance activities throughout the year, school and community effort to improve participation and reduce dropout rate or to enroll in the alternative delivery mode, and school and community effort to improve student and community learning.
“Brigada Eskwela Plus” Most Sustained Schools are selected based on their school maintenance activities throughout the school year; school and community effort to improve participation and reduce drop-out or enroll in the alternative delivery mode; and school community effort to improve student community learnings.
In 2018, DepEd recognized a total of 28 “Brigada Eskwela Plus” Most Sustained Schools as well as two regions with the highest percentage increase in resource generation and volunteers’ turnout. DepEd also recognized 21 Leadership Awards for Regional and Division Partnerships Focal Persons.
While there are no cash prizes given to the awardees, as per DepEd, the TDC noted that schools become more “competitive” for the awards because most of them rewarded by their respective local government units (LGUs).