EDITORIAL - Brigada Eskwela
(The Philippine Star) - May 23, 2019 - 12:00am

Classrooms are being cleaned while desks and other teaching equipment are being inspected for repairs as part of Brigada Eskwela in preparation for the school opening next week. Recent strong earthquakes reportedly caused cracks in several school buildings. Authorities must ensure the structural integrity of all school buildings.

School administrators must also ensure proper sanitation, with water in the taps and the toilets flushing. Clean surroundings also keep away mosquitoes and the diseases that they help spread, notably dengue.

In Metro Manila and other urban centers, traffic managers are preparing for the return of the school crowd. There are schools  that follow a different calendar and will still be closed. Still, a surge in the number of commuters is expected next week. Transport officials must be prepared for this, in coordination with private operators of mass transport services.

The light railway services, popular despite being overburdened, will have to be thoroughly inspected for potential glitches. An accident similar to the one that struck the Light Rail Transit Line 2 near Cubao, Quezon City last Saturday night can have a grievous toll if it strikes during rush hour on a school day.

Some cities and municipalities will have new government officials. With the rainy season just around the corner, the officials must be briefed quickly on the protocols for alerting schools on the suspension of classes during typhoons and floods.

Over the years, with the private sector pitching in, the government has addressed the lack of classrooms, teachers and textbooks. Many schools, however, can still use a boost in equipment. There are still areas such as those in conflict zones that lack teachers. Many public schools lack equipment to promote digital literacy, which is needed for national competitiveness.

With public education now free all the way to the tertiary level, there are fears that the quality of education will suffer. The new school year will indicate if this fear is baseless. The country has been overtaken by several of its neighbors in terms of overall quality of education. There is an urgent need to catch up.

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