“It would take more than the Brigada Eskwela to answer public school system deficiencies” – Solon

ACT Teachers Representative France Castro pointed out that the Department of Education’s annual Brigada Eskwela is an outright admission of the lack of budget given to education, with teachers, parents and students being made to clean schools and pay for tables and chairs, electric fans, curtains, lockers, and other facilities.

Speaking at the opening ceremonies of the Brigada Eskwela of Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo High School on Monday, Castro said that while the annual program recognizes the spirit of bayanihan among the school administration, the students and the community, Brigada Eskwela exposes the government’s lack of budgetary priority for public schools.

“The government heavily depends on its citizens for the preparation of our schools for the coming school year,” said Castro. “Every Brigada Eskwela, we see teachers and parents spend for paint and other cleaning materials. Lack of personnel to clean and maintain schools are caused by the removal of plantilla non-teaching positions in public schools due to the neoliberal policy of imposing rationalization schemes during the past administrations.

In effect, teachers who are supposed to be resting during their paid vacation leave are made to participate in this program. Castro also noted that, per DepEd Rules, only 3 days service credit will be given for 6 days of service in Brigada. Moreover, the program must be strictly voluntary. Many teachers complain that they are not given the service credits that they are entitled to for participating in the program.

“This dire situation only proves that government is not fully funding for the needs of our schools, through sufficient allotment of Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) of each and budget to hire enough non-teaching staff for cleaning and maintenance,” Castro said. “The government should not take advantage of the people’s spirit of volunteerism. It should not pass its responsibility to fully provide for public shools to the parents, students and teachers. This is a good opportunity for the Duterte administration, especially its budget and education departments, to reflect on the lack of budget as seen in the situation on the ground.”
“We call on the leadership of DepEd to review their proposed budget for 2018 to increase the MOOE to reflect the actual needs of each public school and to cater to every Filipino student. The government should ensure that we will have appropriate number of items for non-teaching and support staff. In addition, I call on my fellow legislators to ensure that the budget allocation to education for the following year will be sufficient to provide quality basic education,” Castro ended. ###