Initao Central School troops to the National Awarding Ceremony of the 2009 Best Brigada Eskwela Implementers and Hall of Fame Awards at Tacloban City.

The school is a recipient to the 2009 Best Brigada Eskwela Implementer Award while School Principal Nilda M. Mejos to the Hall of Fame Award. The awarding ceremony is set on June 18.

The Brigada Eskwela plus aims to pool stakeholders in education and their resources to help the Department of Education (DepEd) and the teachers prepare the schools so that regular classes will be done when the students return to school on its opening day.

Brigada Eskwela (Bayanihan Para Sa Paaralan) is DepEd’s National Schools Maintenance Week.

It is a nationwide voluntary effort of teachers, parents, students, community members and other organizations to do minor repairs on their schools in preparation for the start of the school year.

Launched in 2003, the activity encourages volunteers to provide a little bit of materials such as paint, cement, lumber and other materials, which could be used for building. They could also give a lot more of time and community spirit. Donations from local businesses and other corporations are given in kind. Hence, there is no cash involved.

During the Brigada Eskwela week, volunteers undertake the task of preparing the school in time for the start of classes in June. Minor maintenance work such as the repainting of the roof and exterior walls, repair of leaking water pipes, ceiling boards, broken furniture and windows, among others are done by volunteers with the help of donations in kind from non-government organizations and corporations.

Principals and school heads are keys in the organization of this yearly effort. They are encouraged, but not required to organize such an activity in their respective schools. School heads who choose to participate in Brigada Eskwela, however, organize their efforts through their PTCAs as early as February, recruit parent volunteers and approach local businesses for donations by March, and organize work groups by April.

School Principal Nilda M. Mejos said beyond the material and financial gains we have generated from this worthwhile endeavor, the true value of Brigada Eskwela is in the lessons learned from it. Society benefits not only from better classrooms and school campuses, it also benefits from the goodwill generated when people exert effort for the common good- hand in hand with their fellow man.

Brigada Eskwela is the current day version of our proverbial Bayanihan spirit- that sacred tradition of volunteerism we Filipinos value and that sacred tradition of volunteerism we should teach each and every Filipino child.

The true value of Brigada Eskwela is in how well we can teach our children the essence of community- and of humanity. The lesson of Brigada Eskwela is the lesson of the Filipino spirit. (PIA 10)

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