By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
This year’s “Brigada Eskwela”- the weeklong schools maintenance activity led by the Department of Education (DepEd) – officially ends today, Saturday.
DepEd, through its External Partnerships Service (EPS), implemented this year’s “Brigada Eskwela” from May 20 to 25. It focused on the theme “Matatag na Bayan para sa Maunlad na Paaralan” to reflect how DepEd “recognizes the importance of the community in making schools the best place for learners to acquire the values and competencies they need to contribute to nation-building.”
Brigada Eskwela 2019
Now on its 16th year, the “Brigada Eskwela” has transformed through the years. From a simple gathering of stakeholders from the community, particularly parents of learners, to do clean up and minor repairs in school facilities, the “Brigada Eskwela” – according to Education Secretary Leonor Briones – has become a “fiesta” or a grand gathering of partners from both private and public sector coming together for the benefit of public school learners.
Briones and other DepEd officials have nothing but praises for the implementation of the “Brigada Eskwela” which is also known as the National Schools Maintenance Week. DepEd said that it has been is escalating the program’s implementation to maintain “its success and go beyond the expected outcomes with the help of its partners.”
For DepEd, the “Brigada Eskwela” has become the “epitome” of what education partnerships truly are. “It is more than just about painting or cleaning schools in preparation for the return of the children,” Briones said. “It’s also a matter of seeing to it that we provide them the requisites of learners and the requisites of a good learning environment namely, safe schools, supplies, furniture, equipment, and good teachers,” she added.
The 2019 Brigada Eskwela officially kicked off last May 16 at Alfonso Central School in Alfonso, Cavite. Over 1,000 DepEd key officials from the Central, Regional, and Division offices and stakeholders from national government agencies and local government units of Cavite, private sector partners, and various members of the community gathered in the national kickoff and caravan to express their commitment to the annual activity.
During the national kick off program, Briones – represented by Undersecretary for Finance Service and Education Programs Delivery Unit Annalyn Sevilla – underscored that education is a national responsibility. “Education is not the business of DepEd alone [but] the responsibility of our communities,” she added.
Meanwhile, Undersecretary for Legislative Affairs, External Partnerships, and Project Management Service Tonisito Umali, Esq. also stressed that the goal of “Brigada Eskwela” goes beyond cleaning. “It has more targets like bringing back our out-of-school students to [the] classroom,” he said.
On May 20, DepEd-National Capital Region (NCR) also kicked off the “Brigada Eskwela” at Las Piñas Elementary School Central (LPESC). A caravan participated by community members, partners, and stakeholders signaled the start of the activity. During the event, Umali explained that the program is “not just a week-long activity but also a year-round movement.”
DepEd NCR Director Wilfredo Cabral also underscored the “value of preparedness throughout the school year” – something that a program like “Brigada Eskwela” can do.
Aside from the usual clean up, school safety and preparedness as well as water, hygiene, and sanitation (WASH) facilities are incorporated in this year’s “Brigada.” Umali said that that DepEd wanted to make sure that children in schools will have access to safe water, have a functional toilets and for them to have proper hygiene habits.
Various concerns on school safety and readiness were also be addressed during “Brigada Eskwela” which include assessment of cables and wirings, drainage, fire extinguishers, flashlights, evacuation plans, first aid kits, emergency contact numbers, signage, especially in areas with ongoing construction –among others.
As this year’s schools maintenance week officially comes to a close, DepEd thanked everyone – especially the partners and stakeholders like TIP, among others – for their remarkable contributions in the education sector through the “Brigada Eskwela.”
All efforts undertaken during the week-long activity are in preparation for the opening of classes for school year 2019-2020 in all public schools on June 3.
Days of Giving
On the last day of the 2019 “Brigada,” TELUS International Philippines (TIP) gathered its employees and volunteered to be part of the schools maintenance activity through its “Days of Giving” program.
True to the company’s culture of “We give where we live,” this year, TIP brought its time, skills, and resources to Victorino Mapa High School in Manila to “positively impact the lives of over 3,100 high school students by transforming their learning environment and creating spaces that inspire confidence, creativity and hope.”
For TIP, DepEd’s annual “Brigada Eskwela” is “proof of an effective partnership between the government and public and private sectors.” The company also commended the program for bringing communities “closer together to provide children a better learning environment” since its establishment in 2003.
TELUS International President and CEO Jeff Puritt lauded the “exceptional” efforts of the Philippine team “who inspire” other international team members “around the world with the dedication to helping those in need.”
TIP Regional Vice President and TIP General Manager Rajiv Dhand said that part of the company’s vision is “to build a more inclusive and enabling environment for our team members and the communities where we operate.”
For this year, TIP Marketing and Culture Brand Director Carlos Giammattei said that 2,800 TELUS volunteers participated in the company-wide giving back program.
TIP has been a constant supporter of the DepEd through the Brigada Eskwela. For the sixth straight year, TIP has been joining the “Brigada Eskwela” with contributions of more than 14,000 team members dedicating more than 62, 350 hours to help improve seven schools in Metro Manila – benefiting around 35,000 learners.
“We want to thank the teachers and students, we couldn’t have done this without their help,” Giammattei said as he expressed hope that they will keep the school “as pretty as we’re going to leave it with you.”
Giammattei said that the effort is to make sure that students have a good education environment. He also told students that if they “keep studying hard, they will produce the change that we want to see in the Philippines – that is to produce better people that would create a better country.”
V. Mapa HS Principal John Butch Locara also thanked the TIP for all the help the school has received. “This is really a big help for us because we have many dilapidated buildings and TELUS fixed it for us,” he said.
TIP rehabilitated the school’s two campuses located in San Miguel, Manila with 100 classrooms ready to be used by school opening. Other basic education facilities such as chairs, among others, were also donated to the school.