Teachers belonging to the Alliance of Concerned Teachers Philippines on Monday slammed the Department of Education’s Brigada Eskwela as “a great burden and challenge” to them.
In a statement, Joselyn Martinez, ACTS national president, said under the program, teachers “were pressed to raise funds and mobilize people for the maintenance works needed in preparation for the school opening in June.’’
“The teachers know very well the importance of having a conducive environment so that there will be an effective learning process in the classroom. Making this the teachers’ burden, however, is unfair,” she said.
“They are even pressed to solicit for [sic] financial and material support which lay them vulnerable against criticisms and allegations of corruption,” she lamented.
ACT Philippines said Brigada Eskwela “can never and will never effect qualitative improvement in the school’s learning environment,” adding it is just “a band-aid solution to (the) degenerating basic public education.”
On Monday, teachers, students and parents trooped to public schools nationwide for the first day of Brigada Eskwela, also known as the National Schools Maintenance Week to help ensure that public schools were ecologically conscious, resilient, clean, safe and conducive to learning.
“The concept of ‘bayanihan’ to promote community appreciation and sense of responsibility toward education could have been good if it is not depended on as the alternative to fill in the gaps which the government refuses to address,” Martinez said.
Meanwhile, the Metro Manila Development Authority on Monday joined the government’s Brigada Eskwela program in sending 400 personnel to assist in preparing public schools in the National Capital Region for the opening of classes in June.
MMDA chairman Danilo Lim said he ordered the deployment of personnel from the agency’s Metro Parkways Clearing Group to 20 public schools in Metro Manila and actively participate in the program.
“The spirit of bayanihan is very much alive in this activity. Our personnel are more than ready to extend assistance to public schools that requested our assistance for a safe, clean and conducive learning environment for the incoming students,” said Lim.
Francis Martinez, MPCG Chief, said a minimum of 15 personnel are assigned to each requesting public school.
The MMDA men will engage in cleaning up school grounds; doing carpentry works; repairing and repainting of walls, ceilings, corridors, and other fixtures; trimming of trees; providing plants; removing dried leaves from clogged drains; and repainting of pedestrian lane markings, depending on the request of the school authorities, said Martinez.
He added dust pans made from recycled oil tins will also be donated to several public schools in the metropolis.
Some of the schools to be spruced up by MMDA are Palanan Elementary School and Bangkal High School in Makati City; Panghulo National High School and Concepcion Technical Vocational School in Malabon City; Timoteo Paez Elementary School and Pasay City National High School in Pasay City; Juan Luna Elementary School and Antonio Maceda Integrated School in Manila City; Sto. Cristo Elementary School and Holy Spirit National High School Annex in Quezon City.
The Brigada Eskwela is a week-long annual schools maintenance program of DepED that aims to bring together teachers, parents, community members and stakeholders to do clean-up and maintenance works in public elementary and secondary schools.
As the program goes in full blast starting Monday, participating schools are reminded to be mindful of the environmental and health policies aimed at promoting a conducive learning environment for children.
At the launch of the bayanihan-inspired Brigada Eskwela, the Balingasa Elementary School in Quezon City teamed up with Sycwin Coating & Wires, Inc. (manufacturer of PureCoat Premium Wondercryl Pure Acrylic Latex Semi Gloss Paint) and environmentalist group the EcoWaste Coalition to promote compliance to policy issuances by the Department of in relation to paint and waste.
“With the active support of our parents, teachers, and students, as well as partners in the private and public sectors, we hope to make our Brigada Eskwela this year more eco-friendly with the use of lead safe paints and the observance of ecological waste management in line with DepEd policies,” said Nancy Annie de la Paz, principal, Balingasa Elementary School.
Department Order No. 4, Series of 2017 requires the “mandatory use of lead safe paints in schools,” while Department Order No. 64, also issued in 2017, specifies the minimum performance standards and specifications for DepEd school buildings, including “paint materials must be independently certified lead safe paints/coatings.”
Department Order No. 5, Series of 2014, also enjoins schools, among other things, to conduct waste prevention and reduction activities such as enforcing the ban on littering and burning of trash consistent with Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act. With Joel Zurbano