Monday, May 21, 2012

Brigada Eskwela 2012

We've known it for a long time -- the government can't do it alone. Filipinos should also help out in making the Philippines a better place especially for the children who will be the future leaders of this country. Thus, Brigada Eskwela or the National Schools Maintenance Week called on whole communities nationwide to help do repairs, maintenance, and clean-up of schools prior to the start of the school year this June.

The week-long program kicked off last May 21-26 and was marked by two firsts: a focus on school sanitation and the improvement of schools in indigenous communities. One of the major thrusts is the improvement of bathrooms and wash facilities to emphasize the importance of school sanitation and hygiene.

Yesterday, a program was held at the Justo Lukban Elementary School in Paco, Manila with DepEd Secretary Armin Luistro as guest. According to him, Brigada Eskwela 2012 aims to:

1. Make schools ready for the students and teachers
2. Engage the participation of community stakeholders in education, and
3. Revive the bayanihan spirit

This program is the Department of Education's model of public-private-community partnership. It does not accept cash donations. Rather, it asks for cleaning/repair materials (paint, tools, cement, lumber, tiles, etc.), other non-cash assistance, and volunteers who are willing to paint classrooms, repair chairs and tables, leaking roofs and faucets, and cement walkways as well as spruce up gardens and surroundings.

According to the DepEd, Brigada Eskwela is perhaps the most successful brand of community mobilisation in its arsenal. The program name itself is easily identified as the national school maintenance and repair program. On its own, Brigada Eskwela has generated over P10billion in savings in man-hour services and donations in kind and had 100% participation of over 45,000 schools nationwide in addition to its mother volunteering and school adoption program called Adopt a School. Brigada Eskwela also offers a more direct means of intervention through volunteerism and a mechanism for quick, efficient, and effective information dissemination of information to share best practices.

There are four major components to achieve Brigada Eskwela's goals. The first is community mobilisation where various activities promote empowered community involvement not only in school maintenance but education programs as well. Secondly, school and community intervention programs are geared to transform the school and community into a conducive learning environment. Third component involves communications and social marketing to rally the cause through creative means and, finally, operations support is given to participating schools to ensure the effective implementation of local initiatives.

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