Wenceslao: Brigada Eskwela

Candid Thoughts

THIS has become a ritual of sorts for me during opening of classes since we decided to transfer our son to a public school. The other day, I joined the volunteers for the annual Brigada Eskwela for my second son, who is following the footsteps of his older brother this year. That gave me another glimpse of the state of the public school system in the country.

My younger son, like his older brother, completed his elementary education in a private school with a large campus with three two-story school buildings, a gym and a small playground. The third school building was added in preparation for the shift to the K to 12 curriculum that added two more years in high school.

The new school building has large classrooms with air conditioning units, although mostly they only use electric fans. The two-story school building in the public school where he is starting his junior high school years is also relatively new and originally had big classrooms--until the faculty of the school, a science school, realized they still lacked classrooms for the growing student population.

What the school administration did was split each of the classrooms into two smaller rooms by constructing a wall in the middle. With more than 30 students per classroom, that meant each classroom would be cramped. The chairs are lined close to each other and the teacher has little space to maneuver in front.

A couple of years ago, I heard the school principal say that a new two-story school building would be built in the place where the old one floor school buildings stand. That remained a promise until now. During the opening of the school year last year, the school principal said construction of the new school building would finally start. Until now, nothing.

I am confident my son would be able to adjust to this kind of environment. My experience in City Central School in Cebu City and in the old Cebu City National Science High School showed that there are factors in learning other than having the best facilities. The old Science High only had two small school buildings but it produced some of the best graduates in the city.

My son’s older brother is in Grade 12 in the same public school and I am confident that what he learned in high school has been enough to prepare him for college after he graduates. The school is regularly visited by representatives of some private schools in Cebu City offering scholarships--meaning that they believe in the quality of the education offered.

In the Brigada, the volunteers decided to contribute money for the repair and painting of the chairs. They waxed the floor and promised to help the carpenters in the work on the chairs. This is what Brigada Eskwela is about, which is for volunteers to help make the environment for learning in public schools better. It is a good activity, that is why the Department of Education institutionalized it.

Still, there are needs that volunteers could not provide. The school building project in my son’s school, for example, needs to be finally implemented.


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