DepEd Nueva Ecija
Brigada Eskwela Plus: Develops Camaraderie among the Members of the Community
(by Frederick G. Fernando  6/18/2012)

No one can contest the value of the community to effect change. It highlights the enormous potential of a community to do good if and when its citizens have made the rightful decision to come together" in a cooperative effort- to effect change.

For us Filipinos, this can be seen as a natural state of affairs. We are, after all, a nation known for volunteerism. We actually have a term for it Bayanihan. Thankfully, this bayanihan tradition is alive and well to this every day. And it is best exemplified in the bayanihan spirit that we see in our schools.

Brigada Eskwela or School’s Maintenance Week also known as Bayanihan Para sa Paaralan, is a voluntary effort of teachers, parents, students, school officials, community members, local government officials, non-government organizations, and private sectors to prepare and do minor fixing and clean-ups in preparation of the upcoming school year. This was held last May 21-26, 2012.

Minor repairs are usually done before the opening of classes. The major activities in the Brigada Eskwela Program are maintenance work such as the repainting of the roof and exterior walls, repair of leaking water pipes, ceiling boards, broken furniture and windows, cleaning of toilets, and gardening are done by volunteers with the help of donations in kind from non-government organizations and corporations.

Our parents have the greatest contribution to the Brigada Eskwela. They also voluntarily contribute flourescent bulbs, paint, cement, and repair the things that need to be repaired. Our parents, in their own free will, help the school under the scorching hoot sun and work on what should be done for their sons and/or daughters that would be attending the school when the classes open. Brigada Eskwela was implemented in 2003 by the Department of Education. Its main goal is to prepare the school for the start of the new school year.

As early as February, school heads recruit volunteers who would participate in the brigade, by March, they would approach local businesses for donations, then organize work groups by April. It is usually held two weeks prior to every year's opening of classes. Aside from promoting the spirit of volunteerism, since its launch, public schools have benefited in terms of their Community Maintenance and Operating Expenses (MOOE). 2003: 12,000 public schools (30% of all schools) P392 million of community MOOE.  2004: 16,000 schools (38% of all schools) P717.1 million community MOOE.  2005: 26,000 schools (62% of all schools) Over P1 Billion community MOOE. The brigade has saved the government the amount of P153.16 million in donations, services, and volunteer hours and in 2008, it saved the government about P2.9 billion.

Brigada Eskwela Plus is the Philippine contribution to community involvement in education. It serves as a venue for all Filipinos to contribute to nation-building. It provides a vehicle for one Filipino community to unite for a good cause that of creating better schools and providing quality educational services for the Filipino child.

We salute DepEd for having this kind of program.