Brigada Eskuwela: A noble undertaking for all time

The Department of Education’s “Brigada Eskuwela” (School Brigade) is an annual project of the educational, governmental body that aims to foster cooperation, unity, and amity among all stakeholders: teachers, administrators, learners, their parents, and the community as a whole. This is intended for public schools, since these schools need much support and help from the community in order that they strengthen their thrust of educating our youth without creating huge holes in their pockets. It is usually held in May, which is summer vacation for students but work as usual for educators like us. As teachers, we are all required to be an active part of Brigada Eskuwela, which is not only a professional duty but also a moral contribution to the betterment of our educational system and our stakeholders, especially the youth.

Whether we admit it or not, we are clogged by many tasks, especially if we happen to be public school teachers in the basic education levels (preschool to Grade 10) and as a result, we tend to lose count of the tasks on hand and sometimes lose our patience (and empathy for others, truth be told, due to the feeling that we are at the nadir of our energies). It is very lamentable to learn that there are some of our fellow educators who lack empathy due to their being jaded over being underappreciated and their being underpaid despite being overworked, and we deem it totally understandable. Brigada Eskuwela provides us educators with the buffer against pent-up stress and hard-as-rocks apathy (and antipathy), and we will tell you why.

Brigada Eskuwela is a noteworthy project of everyone involved. First of all, it empowers us to provide our respective schools (and other schools, if time would permit us to do so) with assistance. Pre-corona, we would be physically present and do anything that we can: setting up the décor in classrooms, painting walls, planting greens then removing the weeds, or serving food to our fellow volunteers. However, in this current milieu, we do things online due to social distancing and to arrest the deleterious virus. Nowadays, Brigada Eskuwela is done through online programs and with limited physical contact when receiving donations. Second, Brigada Eskuwela unites (and reunites) students and teachers alike for a very worthy cause. It has proven to be the tie that binds stakeholders because it has helped many a school to be restored to its former glory (but better than before, of course) physically and socially. Furthermore, alumni of their respective alma maters learn how to give back in many ways possible, thus earning the respect and affirmation of their former mentors and their peers. Third, Brigada Eskuwela enables us to give back to our community in any way (as long as it is wholehearted, sincere, and pure), regardless of our social status or our educational attainment. As a result, parents of students and the students themselves are able to form an unbreakable bond by helping out in their respective schools. Lastly, by being a part of Brigada Eskuwela every year, we educators become more generous towards our schools and the community, especially by sharing our time, harnessing our talents, and giving total devotion to shaping our communities through education.

Brigada Eskuwela 2020’s theme, “Pagpapanatili ng Bayanihan Tungo sa Kalidad na Edukasyon para sa Kabataan” (Maintaining a spirit of community towards quality education for the youth), is quite fitting to our context today. Every little contribution that we give to our schools and our communities will not be gainsaid because the ultimate rewards that we will obtain are the quality education that we have been aspiring to experience and the utmost satisfaction of our students in learning from us. With our indefatigable commitment to educating our youth and helping our communities even online, we can truly exclaim and proclaim that we are doing our part to protecting our youth and our community from the clutches of the pernicious, invisible nemesis that is the coronavirus.

The true spirit of Brigada Eskuwela cannot be measured in several months but in the years, decades, and centuries that will continue to make our public schools stand the test of time and to make our students brim with passion, enthusiasm, joy, and confidence in their abilities to make a difference in the lives of others.