Toxic-free and waste-free Brigada Eskwela rolls out as schools open anew

The Department of Education (DepEd) on Monday officially commenced the nationwide Brigada Eskwela for this year, three weeks before School Year 2022-2023 opens on August 22.

Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte personally led the national schools maintenance week with the theme “Brigada Eskwela: Tugon sa Hamon ng Ligtas na Balik-Aral,” at the Imus Pilot Elementary School in Cavite.

DepEd kicks off Brigada Eskwela for SY 2022-2023
Teachers welcome DepEd move to scrap competition in ‘Brigada Eskwela’

The Brigada Eskwela usually involves cleaning, repainting, and doing necessary repairs in public schools to prepare them ahead of the reopening of classes. This initiative will be implemented until August 26.

In her speech, Duterte acknowledged that the annual activity may cause both excitement and uneasiness or anxiety to some teachers, parents, and learners due to the threat of the COVID-19 and other diseases.

DepEd spokesperson Michael Poa last Wednesday said DepEd is coordinating with the Department of Health (DOH) to roll out a mobile COVID-19 vaccination in schools in time for the reopening of classes.

MANILA, Philippines — A nationwide group of teachers has welcomed the Department of Education’s move to drop the awarding of the best Brigada Eskwela implementers for this school year. 

In a statement on Monday, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) said that it supports DepEd’s decision following reports of teachers feeling pressured to solicit donations and shell out their own money to spruce up their schools for the competition.

“ACT Philippines welcomed the Department of Education’s announcement that there will no longer be a contest for the ‘Best Brigada Eskwela Implementers’ following numerous complaints that the competition forces teachers to solicit for school needs,” the statement read.

ACT Chairperson Vladimer Quetua said that while their group recognizes the “Bayanihan spirit” of engaging local governments and communities in preparation for school openings, “the duty of providing for education should not be passed on to (teachers) as they are already taxpayers who contributed for the delivery of basic social services.”

“If we ask them for their ambag (contribution), how much is given by the government to prepare schools before the opening of classes?” Quetua said in Filipino.  

A DepEd memorandum issued in March but only made available to the public in April stated that the search for the best Brigada Eskwela implementers will be called off “in response to issues and concerns on the Brigada Eskwela Program implementation.”

“There will be no certificate of recognition given to school heads and teachers, which has corresponding points for outstanding accomplishment for the purpose of promotion and office/individual performance,” the memorandum read.

Instead, all public schools that implemented “Brigada Eskwela” will receive a certificate of recognition for their compliance with the campaign and for their efforts to engage with partners to prepare for the opening of classes.  

Quetua said that because the overall DepEd budget for school maintenance and other operating expenses for 2023 is only P30.8 billion, with 25 million public school students, this translates to just P1,232 for every learner to cover repairs, new equipment supplies and other operational expenses for the whole year. 

“Now, the problem of repainting classrooms, repairing doors or windows; comfort rooms; blackboards, or buying electric fans and other equipment is left on the class adviser and the parents,” Quetua said.

“Given the dire economic situation of our learners’ families, class advisers are forced to spend their meager salaries just so that our learners will have conducive learning spaces,” he added.