It has become quite the time-honored academic tradition for what seems like a relatively recent development. Every year when summer vacation comes to an end the Department of Education (DepEd) would mobilize the faculty and staff of primary and secondary public schools across the country. Alongside the students, their parents, alumni, and any local civic organizations, businesses, NGOs and volunteers interested in helping out, they go and fix up their educational institutions in preparation for a new academic year. This is the National Schools Maintenance Week, or “Brigada Eskwela.” Here in GenSan the Brigada is already halfway through its week and has gotten quite a bit of financial backing too.
The Philippine News Agency reports that the GenSan LGU made a generous P2 million allotment to be shared across all its local public primary, secondary and senior-high schools for Brigada Eskwela 2019. This would help provide for more options in repair and maintenance needed for these schools, many of which saw their last significant large-scale use as polling precincts during the 2019 Midterm Senatorial Elections on May 13. The 2 million has been used to purchase necessities such as construction materials (hollow blocks, sand/gravel and cement), plumbing fittings and hardware.
All these materials have been purchased in accordance with a budget developed by the Special Education Fund, with the City bids and awards committee processing the distribution of the same. But before anyone thinks this is but a grateful gesture by Mayor Ronnel Rivera, who won re-election last week, the plans and monies were already in place long before Generals went to the polls. In a radio interview he notes, “We’re continually evaluating the needs of our schools and actually started our preparations after the classes ended last March.” NGOs associated with the Brigada Eskwela have coordinated with the LGU to make sure the assistance got to all public schools.
The GenSan division of DepEd has proudly announced that various sectors around the city have given “overwhelming” support in funds, kind or manpower in the implementation of Brigada Eskwela this year, benefiting schools across the 26 constituent barangays of GenSan. This was driven home by the official kickoff event being held at Upper Labay Elementary School, quite the distance away from the urban center. Assistant Division Superintendent Dr. Mario Bermudez notes that the choice of the Upper Labay School to host the beginning of the Brigada was due to its needing extensive need of maintenance.
“We’re continually accepting material donations and volunteers for the maintenance works in our schools,” says Dr. Bermudez, who also takes time to remind the public of the true essence of Brigada Eskwela: “This is purely voluntary and not a requirement for the enrollment of our learners.” The official opening of classes in the Philippine public school system is June 3.
Image courtesy of DepEd