October 7, 2022

We laud the Department of Education Baguio Schools Division Office in sharing the appeal of parents to reform the National Schools Maintenance Week or Brigada Eskwela as published in the mainstream and social media.

From the many concerns arising in the implementation of this program, we strongly assert that schools maintenance is the primary task of DepEd, as we put forward the following reforms our organization has been raising for a better implementation of the Brigada Es-kwela.

Brigada Eskwela must be funded by DepEd from supposedly highest national budgetary priority for the department. It should not exploit the bayanihan or the spirit of volunteerism and collective effort to relinquish this task to stakeholders on the ground.

This way, the unresolved perennial problems of lack of classrooms, chairs, facilities, school supplies that make Brigada Eskwela an enormous task, should be resolved foremost. For this school year, additional pandemic-related needs and destruction of facilities and supplies from the recent earthquake can be addressed.

This way too, principals and teachers will not be forced to sap their own resources and energies in big out-of-pocket expenses.

Likewise, many poor parents don’t need to scrounge to be able to contribute financially and don’t need to lend precious time from work and livelihood that should catch up with earning a living especially after the two-year critical pandemic period.

DepEd should not make Brigada Eskwela a contest. It should not degradingly push principals and teachers to do solicitations, as it further did in making amount of solicitations a criterion this schoolyear, especially amidst a continuously aggravating economic crisis.

With these reforms, Brigada Eskwela will not distract stakeholders on the ground from their main task of making education more res-ponsive to present needs and more relevant to societal development. — RUEL D. CARICATIVO, Alliance of Concerned Teachers National Council member for the Cordillera