September 26, 2022

The Baguio schools division of the Department of Education shared the appeal of parents to reform the National Schools Maintenance Week or Brigada Eskwela.

Recently, issues about solicitations becoming a practice in schools during Brigada Eskwela have been brought up by stakeholders, prompting the agency to review the criteria in the search for “Best Brigada Implementer”.

In the case of Baguio, City Schools Division Superintendent Federico Martin said reports about such incidents are isolated but teachers were reminded not to solicit anymore.

“We want to avoid (incidents where) teachers look like they are begging,” Martin said in a press conference, reiterating attendance and donation of materials, food, or cash to the Brigada Eskwela is voluntary.

He said teachers or principals may accept donations, but reiterated cash or the items received are used solely for the activity.

Martin said the controversy arose when the DepEd included in the criteria for the contest the amount of solicitations collected, but which was actually intended to be used for minor expenses during the Brigada Eskwela.

He said even the DepEd central office recognizes this fact and assured guidelines will be revised.

Martin said the criteria should focus on best and unique practices.

Started in 2003, Brigada Eskwela is a nationwide schools maintenance program that engages all education stakeholders to contribute their time, efforts, and resources in ensuring public schools are all set for the opening of classes.

The activity was institutionalized in 2008, during the stint for then Education secretary Jesli Lapus.

Classes in public schools and some private schools started last Aug. 22.

Martin added school heads have been reminded about the prohibition on the collection of school contributions during enrollment.

He said these contributions are not a requirement for enrollment and parents or learners’ caregivers cannot be compelled to pay if they cannot afford.

He added Parents and Teachers Association and other school fees as agreed upon during a general assembly by the parents or learners’ caregivers may be collected within the school year.

The usual contributions being collected are Boy Scouts and Girls Scouts membership, insurance through the Philippine Red Cross, and anti-TB fund drive. – Rimaliza A. Opiña

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