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Sulong Brigada!

This year’s Brigada Eskwela theme, “Isang DepEd, Isang Pamayanan, Isang Bayanihan Para sa Handa at Ligtas na Paaralan” may seem a mouthful. This is a call of the Department of Education for the participation of everyone in providing a quality environment for learning that will result to quality education and eventually produce graduates who will lead our people and progress our land.

The battle cry of the secretary of education, Dr. Leonor Magtolis-Briones, seeks to encourage all citizens to be equipped with life skills that will make them productive citizens.  The Alternative Learning Skills (ALS) program is what is viewed as the immediate answer to the growing lack of livelihood and growing poverty among Filipinos. 

Those who have lost their opportunity for higher learning due to the early curtailment of their education, either due to the family’s need for more hands to work, child labor, or early marriages and misguided choices are now given opportunities to learn in order to earn.

The rah rah of the schools have somehow lifted those of us in business who wanted to do our share in making the learning environment of the students in our public schools more conducive. Some companies joined in cleaning the schools and repairing some of the dilapidated classrooms and school facilities. Others donated learning implements that could help the teachers in their lessons.

In the rounds we made of some of the schools here in Cebu, we noted the different needs of both students and teachers. Prevalent was the need for space. Although classrooms were being constructed there was still a lack of school buildings. The population of students especially in grades 7 and 8 were so large that teachers had to accommodate 60 or more pupils to a class.  Considering the size of the class, the rooms felt cramped and were poorly ventilated. Even the urbanized centers have the same problem. There are no playgrounds, no open spaces. No room to plant trees or to make organized urban gardens. Libraries were makeshift classrooms that spoke of compliance to requirements rather than use.

Some schools did their laboratory work outside the classroom since there was not enough space to perform experiments. School clinics were nil if existent. 

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But what really caught my attention was the danger that some schools were confronted with but which has been ignored. Because of the minute land that had to accommodate barangay schools, buildings were cramped. Some did not have good drainage systems, if they ever had one at all. Others were fire, flood, and earthquake prone. Sadly these are the very same schools that have high enrolments.

Most schools have no faculty rooms so teachers create makeshift offices under the stairways, behind the school stage, in the gaps between buildings. It makes me wonder how they can prepare their lessons. The saving grace through all these is that the teachers have somehow adjusted to their situations and continue to pour dedicated service for the students.

But our schools need help. More classrooms, more laboratories, efficient libraries, teachers, teachers rooms, teachers training, wider spaces for learning, better ventilation, parking spaces, first aid clinics and the list goes on.

If you have the heart for our future, perhaps, you too can give your small share to a school you wish to adopt in your neighborhood. Maybe we can take one classroom at a time.

There is so much need.

Let’s join in this brigade!

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