The Department of Education (DepEd) is doubling it’s efforts to make children go to school and to keep them there.
With the approach of the 2015 deadline of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Education-For-All campaign, DepEd has launched Brigada Eskwela (BE) Plus, which goes beyond school maintenance efforts.
“Let’s look at the schools maintenance activity as a short term goal and having our children complete at least basic education as our long term goal,” Education Secretary Mona Valisno said in a statement.
The program is divided into three phases: Phase 1 prioritizes roof repairs, followed by rehabilitation of school furniture, classrooms and other physical facilities and cleanup of school grounds; Phase II gathers volunteers who will identify drop-outs and school-aged children (ages 6 to 16 years old) who should be in school, and Phase 3 summons the support of parents and the community in improving the academic performance of public schoolchildren.
In 2008, former Education Secretary Jesli Lapus successfully recruited 44,619 public elementary and high schools to join Brigada Eskwela and last year, seven million parents, teachers, employees, local governments, alumni associations and civic organizations volunteered.
The project’s maintenance program was said to have amassed savings worth P2.9 billion. In addition, the peso value of volunteer time was pegged at P1.6 billion while donations-in-kind from donors amounted to P1.2-billion worth.
“The achievements gained by Brigada Eskwela inspire us to utilize existing partnerships with the communities to get parents involved in ensuring that the schools are conducive for learning, that their children are enrolled and actually learn in school— which is the essence of Brigada Eskwela Plus,” Adopt-A-School Program Executive Director Mari Paul Soriano said.
BE Plus was implemented by the DepEd’s Adopt-A-School Program National Secretariat and first launched during the incumbency of former Secretary Lapus.
Moreover, as part of BE Plus, some schools look into improving health facilities, especially the toilets and hand washing stations, in preparation for the possible second wave of Influenza A(H1N1) and other common diseases among school children.
BE Plus was simultaneously launched nationwide Monday and was participated in by all the schools across the country.
Reports revealed some five million out-of-school youths in 2009. These are school-aged children who are not enrolled at schools due to reasons such as distance of their houses from schools, areas with armed conflict, and isolated island communities. –Kristine Bunda, Manila Times