Brigada Eskwela turns teachers into ‘professional beggars’: ACT

·Contributor
·2 min read
A teacher sorts educational modules in preparation for distance learning in the upcoming opening of classes, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in an elementary school, in Caloocan City, Metro Manila, Philippines, August 24, 2020. The DepEd has reminded school heads about its no solicitation policy amid the Brigada Eskwela program. (Photo: REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez)
A teacher sorts educational modules in preparation for distance learning in the upcoming opening of classes, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in an elementary school, in Caloocan City, Metro Manila, Philippines, August 24, 2020. The DepEd has reminded school heads about its no solicitation policy amid the Brigada Eskwela program. (Photo: REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez)

Teachers’ group Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines in a press briefing on Wednesday (August 10) ridiculed the Department of Education’s (DepEd) statement that teachers cannot use the name of the education department, the secretary and other officials to solicit funds for Brigada Eskwela.

“It’s funny because, ironically, they say that solicitation is not allowed but that is what actually happens during Brigada Eskwela,” ACT’s secretary, Ruby Bernardo, said.

“When DepEd released [the statement], we, teachers, just laughed because, on the ground, we call ourselves solicitors general,” Bernardo added.

The DepEd has cautioned public school heads banning collection of fees or soliciting funds to use for school maintenance and classroom repairs, saying that Brigada Eskwela is an avenue to showcase community involvement and volunteerism.

“Brigada is anchored on the spirit of ‘bayanihan’ and has been the prime mover of volunteerism and community involvement in the [education department,” it said.

ACT’s chairperson, Vladimer Quetua, said that teachers have become “professional beggars” as even school divisions would hold contests on who among the schools under their jurisdiction had the best Brigada Eskwela program.

Bernardo said that teachers have even resorted to shelling out their own personal money to have their classrooms repainted, and it’s still not enough.

“While the DepEd is saying that the out-of-pocket of teachers should be reimbursed, in our experience it is like going through the eye of a needle because of numerous requirements and the insufficiency of the school maintenance and other operating expenses,” Quetua said.

“Money that is very dear considering that they have low salaries and the Marcos administration said that they will not give salary increase for teachers,” Quetua added.

DepEd’s Brigada Eskwela this year will run until August 26, with the academic year 2022-2023 starting on August 22 and five-day-a-week face-to-face sessions starting on November 2.

Marvin Joseph Ang is a news and creative writer who follows developments on politics, democracy, and popular culture. He advocates for a free press and national democracy. Follow him on Twitter at @marvs30ang for latest news and updates.

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