In three weeks time, classes will resume in schools once again. As early as the start of this month, enrollment has begun in public and private schools all over the country.
Meanwhile, starting May 16, most public schools both in the elementary and high school levels have started the Brigada Eskwela program. Under this program, teachers, parents, students and other volunteers troop to the public schools and prepare the vicinity for the upcoming opening of classes. These preparations include repairing damaged facilities, repainting doors, windows and black boards, and doing an overall cleaning of the rooms. Usually touted to be a prime token of the Filipino spirit of Bayanihan, the Brigada Eskwela has become a staple practice among public schools in the country weeks before a new school year reopens.
However, the College Editor Guild of the Philippines believes that the Brigada Eskwela conceals the bigger problem that needs to be addressed. Although, this practice is good in itself, it should not prevent us from recognizing that the problem in education cannot be remedied by annual clean-ups and Bayanihan practices. The problem is that the government does not give the priority which the education sector deserves. This is most notable in the budget that is allocated for this basic social service. While the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural organization (UNESCO) and the International Commission on Education recommend that the budget allocation for education should be at par with at least 6% of a country’s Gross Domestic Product, the recent governments have been consistently allocating one third of this recommendation. The lack of funds for the education sector has resulted to a poor quality of education in the country. Proof to this are the low quality facilities in public schools, substandard textbooks, low salary of teachers among others.
Ultimately, as a new school year approaches and school administrators and parents prepare for it, the Guild is forwarding the call to raise the budget allotted for the sector of education. The Brigada Eskwela is no different from the other band-aid solutions consistently formulated by the government in addressing the needs of the people. What we need is a more tangible and more long-term solution that will give more than temporary relief to the Filipino people.
COLLEGE EDITOR’S GUILD OF THE PHILIPPINES Baguio-Benguet Chapter