The Department of Education (DepEd) has declared the schedule for the 2023 “Brigada Eskwela (BE)” from August 14 to 19, aiming to ensure that public schools are ready for the upcoming school year.
Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte officially signed the Implementing Guidelines for this year’s BE in DepEd Order No. 21 series of 2023, dated August 3. This initiative, known as the National Schools Maintenance Week, encourages all educational stakeholders to contribute their time, effort, and resources to prepare public schools for class commencement.
A Six-Day Community Event
The 2023 BE is planned as a six-day event involving local communities, parents, alumni, civic groups, local businesses, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), private individuals, and even teachers and students. Participants will volunteer their time and skills in clean-ups, minor to medium repairs, and maintenance work in classrooms and school premises.
National and Regional Kick-Off
DepEd announced in an advisory on Friday, August 4, that the National Brigada Eskwela Kick-Off will take place at Tarlac National High School on August 7. DepEd Undersecretary Michael Poa also noted that schools will conduct their individual kick-offs leading to the official start of the BE week.
Lifting of Covid-19 Restrictions
In alignment with Presidential Proclamation No. 297 dated July 21, 2023, DepEd has reiterated the termination of the State of Public Health Emergency throughout the Philippines due to Covid-19. Consequently, all previous orders, memoranda, and issuances under the State of Public Emergency will be revoked, and Covid-19 restrictions, including the wearing of face masks and distancing, will be lifted.
BE Implementing Guidelines
For this year’s BE, the guidelines set by DepEd instruct all regions and school divisions to offer “intensive and extensive support” to school heads. The guidelines further elaborate on three stages:
- Pre-implementation Stage: Schools are expected to assess physical facilities and maintenance needs, ensure compliance with the absolute prohibition on solicitation, and create a BE Working committee for comprehensive public awareness and other duties.
- Implementation Stage: All work under Brigada Eskwela is voluntary, and school heads must maintain cleanliness throughout the week-long activity.
- Post-implementation Stage: Schools will prepare and submit accomplishment reports, sustain BE efforts, and grant service credits and compensatory time-off for participating teachers.
DepEd emphasizes that the spirit of volunteerism is central to this year’s BE, and as such, the search for best implementing schools and other awards is no longer part of the program. Recognition of partners and stakeholders will be decided at the school, district, or division levels only.
The announcement of the 2023 “Brigada Eskwela” comes as a concerted effort to prepare educational institutions for the new academic year, foster community engagement, and set the stage for a smooth transition back to school life amid the lifting of health restrictions. The success of this initiative will likely set the tone for the education system’s adaptability and resilience in the post-pandemic era.